Strengthening Your Marriage During the Holidays

Man and woman sits at a desk with hands clasped. marital problemContributor:  Jane McGuire, BS, Executive Assistant for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope

The holidays can be a wonderful time, sharing family memories and traditions. Children laughing and looking forward to Christmas morning with such excitement. It can also be a difficult time for a marriage that is struggling from of the effects of addiction.

Discuss How to Make it Work Together

Marriage is a partnership. Keeping the communication lines open can help ward off conflict before it arises. Grab dinner or a coffee and discuss the challenges that typically cause stress before it happens.


Those new in their recovery may have marital relationships that are still suffering from the distrust that occurred during the addiction. Set boundaries together to rebuild trust. If you are struggling with sexual addiction your spouse may want you to check in frequently and spend your non-work hours at home.

If you are struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse your spouse may ask that you avoid friendships and places that have been triggering to you. Take these concerns into consideration and build strength and trust in your marriage by working through these challenges together.

Simplify the Season

Which holiday traditions are important to you as a couple and which are important to your family. Select a few special traditions and focus on those. This will be helpful in eliminating some of the stress of the season.


Discuss and agree on what the budget will be for this Christmas. Talk about your friends and family, discuss who will be getting gifts and who will not. Set and stay within a budget to avoid post-holiday financial strain and stress.


Happy marriage at the and of therapy sessionDiscuss upcoming holiday events and invitations. Consider eliminating those events where alcohol will be served, if alcohol is a trigger for you.

Adapt to the changes in your lives

Time changes people, and so can the battle with addiction. If you and your partner have been together for a number of years you have witnessed a lot of change during your marriage.

You have walked through many holidays together. Most likely you’ve been through the holidays before, and after, having children. You understand that each change in your lives, require adjustment and change within your marriage.

Battling addiction and walking through recovery together will also require change. You are not the same people that you were before, but your love and marriage has the capacity to grow and change with you. Spend time talking together about these changes and how you can work together to adjust to them.

Your spouse may be attending AA, support group and counselling meetings now. This can often take him away from his family during the holidays. Work together on the schedule, maybe morning or lunch time meetings will work better for your family. Choose a schedule that supports recovery and supports family time.

Remember Why Your Love Began

Although you have both changed, your love for each other still brought you together some time ago. Take a trip down memory lane and discuss why you chose each other.

Talk about what values and attributes you first loved about each other. Talk about your first holidays together and what made them special and memorable. Try and plan those special times again to rekindle some of those loved memories.

Seek Help from a Trusted Sponsor or Treatment Team

Young man buying fresh vegetables at farmer's marketFacing the holidays and struggling with an unhealthy marriage can be very stressful. Having a solid support team is important.

Consider talking with a sponsor that has been married, about marital challenges. Looking for a sponsor that has similar family dynamics can be helpful.

Discuss marital concerns with a trusted treatment team. Their knowledge will be helpful in assisting with the challenges and stresses that can occur during the holidays.

Seek out a trusted marriage counselor in your area, see counselors individually if needed. Consider attending Al-anon meetings or other types of support groups to get advice from those that have walked this path before you.

Today Is a New Day, You Can Do This

Relationships take a great deal of work. We often put our marriages on autopilot and expect them to just continue because of the time that has elapsed. Autopilot will cause your marriage to become stagnate. If you and your spouse want your marriage to work, put forth the effort to help it to grow and strengthen.

Take time together today to make, not only the holidays, but every day a special time for your marriage and your family. You can do this!

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What steps have you and your spouse taken to strengthen your marriage during the holidays and every day? What advice do you have to share?

Jane McGuireAbout the author: Jane McGuire is the Executive Assistant for Jacquelyn Ekern, Founder of Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope. Jane graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jane believes that everyone has a story of trial, that when shared, can be used to benefit and encourage someone else who is struggling to find hope and direction.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 1, 2015
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.