As the parents of four young kids, my husband and I understand why Christmas can be both “the most wonderful time of the year” and also one of the busiest and most stressful seasons.  There is a pressure from secular media to make the season “magical” for your children, but we also want to make sure we are doing all of the things “good Catholic families” are supposed to do: light the Advent wreath without one of the children catching the living room (or a sibling) on fire; remember to set out their shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas (or whenever St. Nick “remembers” to stop by); try not to lose the pieces of the Jesse tree; and, ultimately, teach our children that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Even for married couples who do not have children at home, the holidays can be hectic. There is always one more thing to do, one more party to attend, one more Christmas cookie to bake, and before we know it, we have gone from Thanksgiving weekend to New Year’s Eve in the blink of an eye. While we might think that Advent and Christmas should be the Catholic version of a Hallmark holiday movie, the reality is that married couples in any season of life can easily lose touch with one another and forget what these holy days are all about. 

So how do we make our marriage a priority during this time of the year?  My recommendation is to remember to K.I.S.S.: Keep it super simple. What is one thing that you will commit to doing as a married couple this Advent season? Yes, there are devotions that we can do with our kids, and novenas that we can participate in with the parish community. There are even devotions that we can do on our own. But take some time to discuss as a couple what you will commit to doing together that will help you to slow down and regroup during Advent.  Maybe it is a daily or weekly rosary with just the two of you, or setting aside time to read Scripture or pray the St. Andrew Novena. Perhaps it is being more intentional about praying together every single day as a couple. It does not have to be complicated. 

Remember also that your marriage is a sacrament of service. As married couples, we are called to be a gift to one another and to the whole world. We serve the Church by witnessing God’s love in the world. While there are many different devotions and activities we can participate in during the Advent season, perhaps the greatest gift you can give to Jesus this year is a renewed commitment to growing in holiness as a couple, and entrusting your marriage to him. Just don’t forget to K.I.S.S.!

By Deanna Johnston

Deanna Johnston is the Director of Family Life for the St. Philip Institute. Her role is to focus on marriage formation and ongoing marriage enrichment ministries, as well as provide Natural Family Planning (NFP) and other resources for families in the Diocese of Tyler. Deanna graduated from the University of Memphis with her B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish and later earned her M.A. in Theology from Newman University in Wichita, KS. She is also a certified Billings Ovulation Method NFP Instructor. Deanna married her husband Michael in October 2013 and they have four children: Alexandria, Simon, Elena, and Leo.