How You and Your Spouse Can Avoid Holiday Overwhelm Together

By December 1, 2021Time

The holidays are here, and if you’re like many other couples, you and your spouse may be feeling a bit overwhelmed already. After all, this time of year gets incredibly busy. There are gifts to buy, meals to prepare, family to visit, and a host of other obligations on your to-do list. If you’re more apprehensive than excited about the weeks to come, you might need to take a fresh approach to celebrating this year.

Luckily, you and your spouse are a team. You can work together to avoid holiday overwhelm and make this a season to remember. Read on for some tips on how to create a more peaceful, less stressful holiday season with your spouse.

Decide now to seek joy.

Whatever you’ve experienced this year–whatever the year ahead looks like–now is the time to recalibrate and enjoy time with your loved ones. Decide together that you’re going to seek joy this holiday season. There is so much to be grateful for, and focusing on gratitude will boost your joy immensely.

Create reminders for one another that you’re going to seek joy. Write one another notes, talk openly about what you’re thankful for, and find ways to add a little bit of extra joy to each interaction. Celebrate the love you have for one another, the blessings of the year, and your vision for the year to come.

Determine what you have the energy to do.

Nobody wants to miss out on specific traditions, events, or experiences during the holidays. But sometimes, all the things we want to do are in direct competition with the amount of energy we have to do them. This year, take stock of all the things you both want to do, then figure out what you both have the energy and availability for.

Knowing what you can realistically accomplish, versus what you wish you could do, will help you to combat feelings of overwhelm. After all, this is a time of year we all want to be able to enjoy. We can’t do that if we’re overstretched and over-committed. Figure out where you can commit, and stick to that.

Split your to-do list and work as a team to knock it out.

There’s so much to do around the holidays, it can be difficult to take care of everything on your own. The good news is that you and your spouse are a team, and you can work together to knock out your to-do list. If you have kids who are old enough to help out, that’s an added bonus.

Chat about the things you need to accomplish–whether that’s putting up decorations, shopping for gifts, cooking, gift-wrapping, or tidying up for visitors. Delegate tasks ahead of time so you’re sure they can be covered. When all these jobs are distributed in a fair way, whether you split them between yourself and your spouse or assign tasks to other family members, you’ll all feel better for having pitched in–and less stressed, too.

Game-plan your holiday visits.

Do you have a list of holiday visits to make to family and friends? If you need to make a number of stops and are feeling overwhelmed, consider how you might be able to game-plan each visit. Maybe you decide ahead of time how long you’re going to stay at Grandma’s house, or whether to skip your uncle’s annual holiday breakfast this year. Whatever the case, decide beforehand so you can maintain your boundaries and avoid getting burned out.

Consider breaking old traditions or starting new ones.

Have you ever considered shaking up the holidays a bit? The idea of skipping out on annual traditions, or even starting something new, can be daunting if you’re set in your ways. However, breaking or beginning a tradition could help you pave the way for a less overwhelming holiday–one filled with more joy and cheer not only this year, but in the future, too.

Better time management can help us beat overwhelm, both during the holidays and beyond.

Oftentimes, feeling overwhelmed is a sign that we aren’t properly managing our availability, time, and energy. Our book, Your Time-Starved Marriage, is a tool to help you and your spouse take back the valuable time you need to dedicate to one another. It could also give you the perspective you need to reset your obligations ahead of the holidays. If that sounds helpful, you can find a copy here.

Do you and your spouse get stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays? If not, how do you work together to keep life peaceful while still enjoying the celebration? Let us know in the comments.


  • Sydney Martin says:

    Decide NOW to seek Joy…….that says it all. Great thesis on not being overwhelmed. As Pastors my wife and I are so tired caring for people through the pandemic, we can’t do regular traditional obligations this year. We are tired and need to recalibrate. We need to “decide on what we have energy to do” and stick to it, and friends, family, and congregants need to respect our decision

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