When Christmases Clash

The Christmas season can reveal differences between the two of you that didn’t even know you had, and this time of year can even exacerbate the differences you already know you have. When you’re aware of your holiday differences, you can plan to balance them. One couple in our book, The ReMarriage Adventure, had to learn how to do just that.

Tom and Megan remarried and had six young adult children between them, but they had very different ways of interacting with their kids. Tom always did a lot of activities with his son and daughters, but Megan always had a lot of relational talk time with her three girls. The girls also played games, watched movies, and went on walks together.

So when all of them got together for the holidays, there were glaring differences in what they wanted to do. It was hard to spend quality time together when they were so different, but Tom and Megan had to figure out how to find a balance and help the kids adjust to their new blending family.

They all had to compromise—a lot—and it wasn’t easy. Yet Tom and Megan were determined to create holiday memories that were positive for all of them. But how could they make it work?

Tom and Megan discovered that, more than any other Bible passage, Ephesians 4:2-3 could help them make their holiday differences draw them together instead of apart. This scripture reminds us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Here’s how we all can apply it to our holiday relationships:

Be humble. Realize that your way of doing things may not always be the best way. Your mate’s way or your kids’ way may not be either. Whether it’s how to decorate, what gifts to buy, what Christmas cookies to make, or where to visit on Christmas day, sometimes it’s best to find a new way to do something, especially during the holidays.

Be gentle. When a difference makes you crazy, be gentle as you discuss it. Remember that differences are a part of the ones you love, and your relationships are much more important than the way you do something. Holiday expectations run deep and there are a lot of emotional attachments to them.

Be patient. You are on a lifelong journey of learning and growing together. Sometimes you just need to learn to live with that difference—you “bear with it” as the Scripture says. But that also doesn’t mean you grudgingly put up with it and make the person feel bad about that difference. Instead, you love him or her in spite of it.

Keep the unity and peace. Differences can make you feel disunited and steal the peace in your relationship, if you let them. Trust God’s Spirit to help you find peace when differences want to tear you apart.

Most of all, be sensitive and recognize that some of your differences are actually blessings in disguise. It’s all in your perspective and the way you choose to view the differences you do have. And as you model Ephesians 4 as a couple, you will help your kids learn how to live it out too.

Check out The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage for more ways to strengthen your marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.

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