I copied and pasted this below (in green) from an email I got from Marriage Messages- I get these once a week and they are really good- I treasure the little nuggets of truth I get everytime. I wanted to share this particular message- it was good. You can suscribe to this FREE ministry by going to their website at www.marriagemissions.com
Christmas Can Be Hard on Relationships - Marriage Message #20
Celebrating the Christmas season can be hard on relationships -- particularly marriage. That may seem like a strange statement, but it's true. You would think the opposite would be true. After-all, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ -- "the Prince of Peace" should bring... well, PEACE!!!
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end..." (Isaiah 9:6-7a)
The birth of Christ is the time when God appeared in human form. As believers, we know that this is just the beginning of His "increase". After His second coming, the peace of God will be fully realized. Yet as we celebrate His birth -- the beginning of His "increase", many of us mentally leave Christ in a type of manger setting (where He isn't powerful) instead of inviting Him to increase and grow in our hearts -- to live in and through us.
A good challenge for us is something that John the Baptist said, "I must decrease, He must increase." Is that how you are living your Christian life both inside and outside of your home? How about at Christmas -- a time when we (and others) recognize and celebrate the birth of Christ? Christmas can be hard on relationships because:
--- We try to do more than we can and should.
--- We get so caught up in the actions of others that we forget to live out the principles of Christ.
--- We allow ourselves to say and do things that don't reflect the heart of Christ.
--- We want to GIVE more than our budget allows. We WANT more than budgets allow.
--- We misplace our priorities. We must never take CHRIST out of Christmas.
So how do we change this? What can we do to make this a more peaceful season which reflects the heart and light of Christ in our marriage, our home, and outside of it?
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
The following are a few tips that you might keep in mind as Christmas is being celebrated all around us and in our homes:
--- Lower your expectations of making everything so grand. "Give yourself permission to avoid perfection like the plague. Remember, Jesus was born in a stall in a barn (cave). He came into this world in a place filled with the odors of any farm. He had no tree, no lights and no Christmas buffet" (John Thurman). Don't try to do more than you can and should.
Keep in mind: if you're too busy to be kind, you're too busy. We're promised in the Bible that God will not give us more than we can handle. If you're doing more than you can and you find yourself being unkind as a result, then it shows that you're being tempted to do more than you should. Ask God to show you how you can simplify things so the "fruit of the Spirit" is lived out in your heart and actions. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
--- Husbands, wives, children, relatives, and friends can be a blessing! But they can also complicate our lives as well and push at us in ways that cause us to lose sight of what's most important. Here are a few tips from counselor John Thurman www.johnthurman.net from his article "Holiday Stress Tips" (in quotation marks) that might help you, plus some we've added:
- "Regardless of what your therapist says, the Christmas season is not about problem solving. Deal with family issues another time. (Make this a holy day.) You have to choose how you are going to feel. You don't have to be a slave to old memories. ... If you're going to be spending a lot of time with family, be intentional about building in breaks from the family. The holidays can be a very special time for families to be together, but you don't need to overdose."
- Keep yourself out of places, to the best of your ability, where victimizing conflict can occur. Many times there is safety in numbers. It's something I learned with a family member who just wasn't safe to be with alone. My brother and I made a pact to watch over each other so neither of us would be alone with this individual. It helped greatly! "Gather on neutral ground -- meet at a place that belongs to no one. Include everyone that you can, and avoid posturing and fighting." "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).
- Also, if you can't avoid certain in-laws and/or other family members, and getting together with them is a reality in your life, look for ways you can be a blessing and bring the light of Christ to shine through in the darkness. Do all "as unto the Lord." Through this you are participating in His sufferings. You are also participating in God's Kingdom work. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will now grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3).
--- Don't allow yourself to be dragged into or to stoop to the level of being sinful in how you interact with others. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:29-32). "Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification" (Romans 14:19).
--- Being a giver can be a wonderful blessing. "It is better to give than to receive." But keep in mind that sometimes unwise generosity can cause added problems later. It is better to give less and not break your budget, than to give more and put your family into depressive debt. Sometimes giving and accepting gifts that cost less, but are given in love are greater than gifts given where the price tag eventually becomes burdensome.
---"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God -- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).
We pray you will poke holes in the darkness and draw together with your spouse to glorify God,
Cindy and Steve Wright