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Spend this Advent hunting for the good

Libby DuPont is a consultant for the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life.

by Libby DuPont

In the weeks before Christmas, romance is all around us: in charming, predictable movies; in ads for diamonds and matching pajamas; and in the refrains of our favorite seasonal songs.

Yet, in our lived reality, “the most wonderful time of the year” can be filled with stress, exhaustion and meltdowns (and not just the kids).

The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to completely change the atmosphere of our homes. Consider adopting one or more of these practices as an Advent observance with your spouse.

Hunt for the good. This weekend, sit down with a pad of sticky notes and write 25-30 specific things you appreciate about your husband’s strength or your wife’s beauty. Then, each day before Christmas, leave one where your spouse can find it.

Hang mistletoe in a high-traffic area (really!). Stopping to kiss your beloved in the midst of preparations or chores will remind you of the important truth that you are a man and woman in love.

Team up. Join each other for a task you normally tackle on your own. Even if you aren’t super helpful, you’ll learn more about your spouse’s experience and learn to appreciate his or her efforts and expertise.

Avoid past pitfalls. Feel disconnected while staying with Grandma? Plan to run an errand or take a quick walk each day. Does Aunt Betty always ask uncomfortable questions? Decide together how to respond. Does one of you freak out before family arrives? Plan a family cleaning day to lighten the load.

Plan a mini-date. Invest in an hour with your spouse to rest and reconnect. Whether it’s sharing an eggnog in front of the tree or stopping for coffee on the way home from an errand, it is time well spent.

Love smarter. Your kids make a Christmas list, why not your spouse? Why waste precious energy on things that miss the mark? Ask your spouse for a list of simple things that make him/her feel most in love with you, such as holding your hand in public, taking care of a chore or bringing a treat . . . then try to do as many as you can.

We spend a lot of time and energy trying to make the holidays magical for our kids. But investing in our marriage can give them the warmest memories of all . . .  a mom and dad in love!

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Libby DuPont

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