My husband and I think of ourselves as having a modern marriage. We both have busy jobs, contribute as much as we can to take care of the kids, and with what time and energy we have left, we try to find time to nurture our marriage. We believe we divide up the work in our household evenly.
That being said, why is it that I seem to be solely responsible for Christmas? The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, but, in my opinion, tis the season…for stress! My to-do list is long. Holiday shopping takes a great deal of time and effort because I worry about finding the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone. Once home, I then spend hours making sure the presents are wrapped in brightly colored paper with lots of ribbon. I also hang the inside decorations, coordinate social events for all of us, bake fancy holiday cookies and create and send out the holiday cards.
Year after year I am up at all hours fitting in these holiday duties, watching my husband sleeping soun
dly at night, oblivious to my panic. Basically, I take on 98% of the holiday related work and my husband 2%. I’ve talked with other working moms with with husbands who are helpful most of the time, and they too say they feel they carry a disproportionate burden during the holiday season.
A recent study of over 2,000 men and women by Lantern found that women tend to be 11% more stressed than men during the holiday season. It’s not hard to guess why women feel responsible for the merry making; many worry so much about making the holidays magical for everyone else, they forget about enjoying the season themselves. Are you one of these women?
I’m guilty of being one of these women. This year, though, I am trying to take these steps to even the playing field.
Know What You Need
This is the most important step. Take time to reflect on which tasks your partner can do. Think about which jobs you find most stressful and try to delegate them. Remind yourself that shopping for gifts is not just for women. It’s true your partner may not purchase what you consider the best gift, but so what. That’s not what the holidays are about. Try to let go.
Once you have a handle on what all needs to be done, ask for specific help. Let your partner know you understand that it won’t be exactly the way you would do it. Then, once it’s done, don’t criticise. This increases the likelihood your partner will comply.
Discuss it at the right time
Talk to your partner before you feel overwhelmed. Find a peaceful time for the conversation, perhaps during dinner or before bed. Present your needs with a “we’re in this together” approach. And watch your tone of voice. As my mother always said, 10% of arguments are about a difference of opinion, 90% about tone of voice.
I finally realize the burden doesn’t just fall on me; in reality, I take it on. Taking responsibility for my own behavior, communicating more effectively with my husband and learning to let go should help distribute the work load more evenly during the holidays. I’ll let you know how it goes.