January is not only known to be the coldest month of the year, and, apparently, it has also proven to be the coldest in relationships as well. The first month of the new year is reportedly the most popular time of year when people file for divorce. Rumor has it in the judicial circles that January is nicknamed "Divorce Month.” One of the major reasons why divorce is high in January is that the holidays immensely stretch marriages due to the pressures of life. Pre-existing and neglected issues also become magnified and come into sharper focus when stressed-out couples spend more time together over the holidays. Below are 7 biblical principles to help you enjoy the holidays as a couple and arm you with ammunition against stress and strife.
- Choose to accept what you have no power to change: If you don’t have enough money for all the gifts you would like to buy for people, or whether you are dealing with the tough fact that you will not be able to be with your side of the family this year, just accept it and don’t try to stress your spouse about something you both have no power to change. Focus on what you can change. You have the power to change your attitude on how you respond to the challenges. Remember you are on the same team. As long as you have each other, you can survive anything together. Philippians 4:6-7, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Think through and plan each day in advance: Take time to think through the days together, communicate, then come up with a tentative schedule to serve you as a guide. This will reduce a great deal of unnecessary fights that are ignited by the stress of disorder and chaos. Think of as many things as you may want to do and organize them into a schedule. Remember, stressed people, stress people. Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- Choose to be flexible: Don’t freak out… It’s the holidays… it’s normal for things to not happen on schedule… it’s normal to experience some setbacks. Don’t let that rob your entire holiday season and set you off into depression. Roll with the punches! Have fun! Anticipate the curve balls! Laugh about it! Contribute to the well being of your family by choosing to be flexible! Philippians 4:12, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
- Give each other some alone time: This season is about reflecting and being thankful. It’s about counting your blessings, not once, not twice, but daily. There is a lot for you to be thankful for. Allow your spouse to sneak away for a moment for some alone time before or after a long day. The quicker your spouse can refresh and get refilled, the better for you and your family. Isaiah 40:31, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
- Protect each other: As you meet so many people (family, old friends, people you didn’t expect to meet, ex-lovers, etc) remember that your spouse comes first. You are one flesh. Be sure to look out for your spouse’s feelings and interests first. Some people are divisive even when they mean well. Refuse to take other people’s sides no matter what. Stand for and with your spouse. Be wise about where you go. Be cautious about the kind of conversations you get involved in. If you or your spouse feel uncomfortable about where you are, prepare a discreet signal that says, “It’s time to go…” Matthew 10:16, Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
- Party and laugh together: Take advantage of the holiday and time off from work to carve out some time to just watch a movie, watch a comedy, and just have fun together. Be intentional about having a good time. If not now, then when? Put the kids to bed in good time and have a plan to party, eat junk food for once and have lots of intimate time. Do something out of the ordinary. Add the “merry” in your “marriage!” Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
- Do good together: This season is really more about giving than receiving. Take time to think through a real meaningful gift that you can give your spouse, but beyond that, think of something good you can do together for others who are less fortunate. Visit a nursing home together; visit a homeless shelter; ship a gift overseas or across town to a less fortunate family. Instead of fighting each other, focus on fighting for good together. Remember that what you do for others together will bring a blessing back into your home and marriage. Proverbs 19:17, If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord and he will repay you!
By Zenzo Matoga . Impact Church Pastor .