How to THRIVE in your 1st Year of Marriage: Christmas Expectations

The year I was engaged to Shane, I was so excited to be married. Everyone told us “the first year is the hardest.” Well, I was anxious to prove them wrong.

The first year passed, and it ROCKED! (Take that, naysayers!)

But then the second year passed, and the third…. and I realized that what everyone said was true. That first year was awesome, yes, but it actually was the hardest (thus far). Thankfully, I learned some pertinent lessons along the way, and I hope to share them with you, my engaged and newlywed friends.

How are you struggling to survive THRIVE in your first year of marriage? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to discuss the issue.

Today’s topic is: Christmas Expectations.

The Rosty’s 1st Christmas

Our first Christmas together kinda creeped up on us. The holidays arrived after 6 short months of marriage. I had an idyllic idea of how it would go:

  • Decorating the tree while listening to romantic Christmas tunes.
  • A snuggly vintage movie night with hot-cocoa, adorable Christmas sweaters, and my AMAZING homemade Christmas cookies.
  • Enjoying all the other traditions with our families (driving to see the lights, Christmas eve candlelight service at church, gift-exchange, etc.)

1st Rule of a healthy marriage: communicate!!! I assumed  Shane wanted the same things. Alas, I was mistaken. Our 1st Christmas was not what I expected:

  • Shane pulled out the Christmas stuff after a meeting with our college student ministry team. I watched with stifled jealousy as 8 college kids hung lights and decorated the tree with my husband.
  • I also didn’t grasp the massive undertaking that is baking Christmas cookies. I spent WAY too much money, made a huge mess of the kitchen, and burnt half of the cookies.
  • We spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas day in the car, driving back and forth between my parents, my in-laws, our grandparents, and siblings houses trying to snatch pieces of Christmas traditions from each home.

At one point, the disappointment burst out of me like a raging Grinch-storm of unmet expectations. I totally blind-sided my sweet husband who was enjoying the hustle-bustle of our 1st Christmas chaos.

Thankfully, Shane was SUPER gracious to me. After I explained everything that disappointed me, he apologized (though he didn’t need to), and gave me an attitude check. Eventually, we put some compromises in place for next year.

Now, my expectations are much different:

  • It turns out, I love decorating with our students. We made it an annual tradition: the Decorating Party at the Rosty’s. We laugh so much as we decorate cookies, the house, and the tree together.
  • I also fell in love with car-time with Shane. We have the best conversations sitting side-by-side on the road. The intimacy of hearing his heart is worth the hours to and from family gatherings.
  • We have learned to embrace “romantic” Christmas stuff in the days leading up to Christmas day. I try to get all Christmas busyness (shopping, baking, parties, etc.) done several weeks before. By the time our students leave for Winter break, we have a cozy home and plenty of down-time to focus on our marriage.
  • I make a point to communicate my expectations AHEAD OF TIME! I also try to let go of my assumptions, embrace new things, and enjoy HIS expectations for the season as well.

Perhaps the single most important lesson I learned through this season was my definition of “home.”

Stay tuned for another post on Thrive in Your 1st Year of Marriage: Home for the Holidays.

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