How to Manage Holiday Stress and Stop it From Hurting Your Marriage


2020 has brought on an onslaught of craziness. Day to day living is filled with controversy, name-calling, and uncertainty. Now we’re moving into the final six weeks of the year. It’s time to prepare yourself and manage holiday stress so it doesn’t interfere with the fun and cause you to start off 2021 on a sour note. 

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The American Psychological Association has found that 38 percent of people say the holidays increase stress levels. Dealing with added stresses not only affects your health, but it can be detrimental to the health of your marriage if you don’t control it.

The only person you can control in any situation is yourself. You can hope, pray, and wish all you want that others will change and adapt, but it’s probably not going to happen. So, you need to be intentional about the way you approach the season. 

Here are some tips that will help you protect your marriage and manage holiday stress throughout the season.

Show your appreciation for your spouse.

Manage holiday stress by strengthening the bond between you and your spouse. One way to do this is to make your spouse knows that you are grateful for them. Do more than just say it when you go around the Thanksgiving table saying what you are thankful for. Make a point of showing them every day in some small way.

Write them short notes or send texts with something about them you are thankful for. Do they do the dishes? Help the kids with their school work? 

Show them a little extra affection. A short kiss, an unexpected hug, or remembering to tell your spouse you love them each day will demonstrate your appreciation for everything they mean to you. 

Be present during conversations. Free time can be limited during this time, so make sure to actually listen when you have a chance to talk with your spouse. Put the phone down, make eye contact, and respond thoughtfully to the things they say. 

If you are looking to make the most out of your conversations with your spouse this season, check out 131 Holiday Conversations: Creative, Christ-honoring Conversation Starters for Couples and Families.

Drop some random acts of kindness on your spouse. Make their favorite meal. Remember something they said they wanted and pick it up for them. Buy their favorite snack or make their lunch for work! 

Here are some other ideas for these acts of kindness: A Month of Acts of Kindness for a Stronger Marriage

Be Optimistic and Positive 

It’s easy to let a negative attitude creep in during the holidays. The things that are supposed to be fun sometimes feel like more trouble than they’re worth. And on top of it all, you are supposed to be full of Christmas cheer, and not feeling like that makes you feel even worse. 

This negative spiral can not only ruin your holidays, but your family’s as well. 

Manage holiday stress by refusing to let those negative emotions spiral and create a holiday you won’t be able to enjoy, intentionally look for the bright side. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. So, when the cookies burn, the tree falls over, or you double-book yourself, take a step back. Breathe for a moment, and remember the big picture. 

Remind yourself what this time of year is all about. Focus on those you love and a God who loves you, and your outlook is sure to improve.

Manage holiday stress by remembering who the season is all about.

Staying optimistic in the midst of all that the holidays throw at you will lessen your stress. So check what you are about to say or what you are thinking and ask yourself if it helps or hurts the situation. If it’s not beneficial, let it go. 

Have realistic expectations

The holidays require that you cut everyone a little slack, especially your spouse. Christmas never ends up looking like a Pinterest board or a Hallmark movie. 

Instead of expecting your holiday to look like those fantasy holidays, manage holiday stress by setting your own realistic expectations for the season. Sit down with your spouse and decide what is important to your immediate family.

If you expect something from your spouse, this is the time to tell them. They cannot read your mind, so even if you feel like you’ve hinted a thousand times about it, you may just need to be blunt. 

Then stay away from sappy Christmas movies and social media’s perfect holiday posts. Whatever you and your spouse decide for the season is all you need. So let go of what you think everyone else has or does. 

Work as a team

Like everything else in life, a successful holiday season is more likely when you and your spouse work together to make it happen. 

Make a plan for your holiday season together. Which events do you absolutely have to attend, and which can you politely decline? How much should you spend on gifts for each other and other important people in your life? Who do you really want to spend time with?

Manage holiday stress by spending time with the people you love the most.

Once you’ve made the decisions, stick to them. Keep the lines of communication open by taking a few minutes each day to check in and see what needs to be done and who is responsible for it. Support one another, and don’t blame your spouse when things go wrong. 


Many couples have difficulty creating a plan for the holidays because they have different ideas of what they should be like. Growing up in two different households gave each of you very different holiday expectations, and this can be a source of holiday stress. 

Issues like these create a need for compromise. Take the best of both worlds and create new, unique holiday traditions for your family.

Does your spouse want to do something one way, and you want it another way? Try some of these techniques for reaching an agreement you can both live with.

  • Can we meet in the middle? (Great question for debates about how much money to spend or how much time to spend at an event.)
  • If you let me have this tradition that’s important to me, you can have one you want too.
  • Let’s do it your way this year and my way next year.

So, what will you do today to start planning for a Christmas and holiday season that will pull you and your spouse closer together instead of pushing you further apart? What can you do to manage holiday stress this year?

Want to read more about creating a less stressful holiday season? Read Holiday Survival Tips To Make Your Marriage Stronger.

Is there just too much stress already in your marriage, and you’re afraid holiday stress will end up driving more of a wedge between the two of you? You may be wondering if it’s worth it to keep putting effort into a marriage that doesn’t seem to be working, but you know that God desires for you to keep your relationship together except in the worst of situations. 

The truth is, no matter the condition of your marriage today, you can create one that is strong, healthy, and based on the Word of God. 

At Marriage Confetti, we are committed to helping you build a marriage that will last a lifetime. We do this by understanding God’s word, creating a positive mindset, and building new marriage habits.

It’s all about building a better future starting where you are today.

If you are interested in finding out what we have to offer, please take us for a test drive! We offer free, private 45-minute marriage breakthrough sessions. 

Answer a few questions, so we can get to know you, and we’ll schedule a time to chat online! No strings, nothing. We just want to help as many couples as possible move forward in their marriages.