Why holidays bring out the best and the worst in us…

 “I always think that struggle can bring out the best in people – or the worst.” – Abby Wambach

It’s easy to see how we are our most generous selves during the holidays… 

… We’re more likely to feel grateful.
… We’re going out of our way to make the holidays special, particularly for the little ones.
… We’re also giving toys and food to those that are in need.

But the holidays also bring a fair amount of stress to our lives, in the form of shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, planning, entertaining, buying, spending….

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, right? 

That’s not including the emotional struggles that the holidays bring up for so many of us. As well as the pressure to pull off the holidays perfectly in order to please everyone around you!

And the thing is, we bring our worst selves to our safest places. 

Have you ever heard that the reason kids can be so unloving to their parents at times is that parents are the safe place where kids can bring their worst selves and know they’ll still be loved? It’s considered a privilege to be treated so poorly, because it might be the only place where they can be so bad and still be so loved. 

I think that sometimes in marriage, we attempt to extend that same logic…especially during the holidays.

  • We can bring our best selves to our kids, our families, and even to the person in need who is a complete stranger to us…
  • But we often bring our worst, most tired and most stressed selves to our marriages.

Maybe the logic is that no matter how badly we treat one another, the marriage isn’t going to end. After all, we made a commitment and said “until death do us part.” Plus, ending a marriage is no small, insignificant decision.

Around the holiday season, there are many people that get us at our best, but there is usually one person that gets us at our worst: our spouse.

They get the short-tempered and irritated version of us when the stress of the day gets to be too much…

They get the exhausted version of us when we’re feeling overwhelmed and there’s nothing left in the tank…

We’ve all done it….

So during the holidays this season, I have a challenge for all of us (yes, I’ve included myself in there as well) to bring our best, most generous, most loving self to our marriage as well. 

That means….

  • Taking a break when you need to…(let this be a marathon, not a sprint)
  • Asking for help and what you need in the moment…(they’re not mind-readers)
  • Taking a deep breath and speaking to your spouse the way you would a dear friend that you love and care about

 And when that feels absolutely impossible – and you know you’re not at your best – step away and ask for some space to gather yourself until you can bring your best.

Maybe even share this challenge with your spouse so that you both are making an effort to bring your best to the marriage and to one another this holiday season.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Why holidays bring out the best and the worst in us...