When I was growing up, holidays and vacations always seemed to spark a new stress level for my parents. Many times we rolled out of the driveway heading for a week of family fun, with a frigid silence happening in the car.
Once I got married, I began to understand some of the stress that accompanies trying to get everyone packed, out the door, and ready to enjoy family time. I also came to understand the stress that can often come with the holidays. Those grocery store commercials with the happy family sitting around a beautiful 20-pound turkey are not always realistic.
If you are the host, that means getting the house cleaned, the menu planned out, and food prepped so your guests can enjoy a wonderful time. That can be stressful.
As we get into the holiday season, I want to remind you of something.
Your spouse can’t read your mind.
I know! I bet you are just as shocked as I was when I made this discovery. J I just assumed that Scott knew what I needed. I figured the to-do list that kept me awake at night was also on his mind.
I came to realize that he couldn’t read my mind. That meant I had to communicate my needs and expectations. I had to let him know when I was feeling overwhelmed at the idea of packing clothes for four little kids or specific ways he could be a blessing to me when we had guests over.
Share your expectations
Think back about the times where you have been frustrated and upset at your spouse. What caused it? Did you have expectations that were not met? Did you communicate those expectations?
Be consistent about sitting down with your spouse and communicating your expectations. Since Thanksgiving is in a couple of days, let’s start thinking about this upcoming holiday. How can you avoid a blow-up that day by communicating your needs ahead of time?
When you are talking through things with your spouse, you can also listen to their expectations and figure out ways to help meet those needs.
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2
Make this a way of life
The initial talk about expectations may feel awkward. It may feel silly to express your needs. I promise if you are vulnerable, it will be a step towards better communication in your marriage.
Don’t just be a taker, be willing to listen to your spouse. Ask them what their expectations and needs are as well.
Once you start this process, this will quickly become a way of life. You will begin working as a unit, making sure that there are no unmet expectations or needs.
God wants you both to walk through this life as a unit, connected not only to Him but to each other as well. Marriage is a beautiful relationship where you can encourage and bless each other.
When I started recognizing that my husband, Scott, was not intentionally trying to hurt me but instead, he was oblivious to some of my needs, it changed things in our marriage.
Now it is rare that we enter into a holiday, event, family gathering, or vacation without a clear understanding of each other’s needs, desires, and hopes. We try to take this so far as planning out our weekends ahead of time. I can’t tell you how often Scott was looking forward to a football weekend of relaxing, and I thought we could put an addition on the house by Saturday evening.
This process not only works for expectations and needs but also dreams. Don’t ever stop dreaming with your spouse. Scott was recently in the hospital after an accident and he was bored out of his mind. I opened my computer and said, “Let’s make a dream list.” We started talking about dream vacation destinations, restaurants we would like to try, and DIY projects we could do around the house. Many things on that list may never happen, but it didn’t cost us a dime to dream, talk and plan. I was surprised at some of the things on Scott’s list. He had dreams and desires that I had never realized.
Don’t assume your spouse knows what is on your mind. Be willing to talk and listen as you both grow towards each other and God together.
Do you have disappointments that you are holding on to? Pray and ask God to reveal areas that need to be discussed with your spouse. Here are some topics to get you started:
- Household Chores – Do you need more help keeping up with the chores of the house?
- Extended Family – Are you on the same page regarding time with extended family?
- Spiritual Life – Do you desire a different spiritual life with your spouse? Do you want to do devotions together each day or pray together? Are you sharing your spiritual victories and struggles with your spouse?
- Finances – Do you agree on how the budget is handled and how your money is spent each month?
- Intimacy – Is your spouse meeting your physical needs? Do you need to talk about how you can create more intention in this area?
- Love Languages – Do you know your spouse’s love language? Are you doing a good job of meeting those needs?
Watch your communication and patience with one another change as you start being intentional in discussing your wants, needs, and desires.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18