In-laws Article: Hitched/December

January 7, 2009, 12:27 am

The following article was published in Hitched Magazine in December of 2008. (This article is exclusive to Hitched Magazine.)

5 Tips for Being a Great Spouse During The Holidays
By Jenna D. Barry

It’s no surprise that the holiday season can be a stressful time of year. Not only do we have the usual responsibilities—such as our jobs, childcare, and household chores—but we have to squeeze in time for all of that holiday cheer. That’s right, I’m talking about stringing Christmas lights, decorating the tree, baking cookies, buying presents, writing Christmas cards, and spending time with friends and family. Although most of these activities are meant to spread joy, we often find ourselves too busy and exhausted to enjoy them. That’s why it’s especially important this time of year to provide strength and support for each other.

Here are five ways for you to be a great spouse during the holidays.

1. Keep things simple. If you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed with everything on your “To Do” list, think of ways to lighten your load. If you don’t have the time or desire to bake 10 dozen cookies for your friends and neighbors, then don’t. Buy pre-decorated cookies at the grocery store; if you package them right, people will think you spent hours making them yourself! If the thought of long lines at the post office makes you want to scream, buy gift cards instead. You’ll save money on shipping, too.

2. Ask for help. If you need help with something, ask your husband in a loving way instead of letting your resentment build while you wait indefinitely for him to read your mind. Rather than demand that Hubby drop everything to help you right then, let him help determine a convenient time. If he doesn’t do something exactly the way you think it should be done, realize that doesn’t mean his way is wrong. Let go of your perfectionist tendencies and make sure to say thank you, especially if you want him to help you with something in the future.

3. Say nice things. For example, “You look especially beautiful this time of year,” “You sure look sexy when you string Christmas lights,” “Thanks for all your hard work,” “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier,” or “You are so good at making our home feel cozy for the holidays.”

4. Unite as a couple. If your daughter is begging for something your husband thinks is too expensive, value his input even if it means losing the Best Mom award. If your wife wants to celebrate Christmas at home, have the courage to make her needs a priority even if your parents pressure you to spend the holidays at their house.

5. Be supportive. I once heard a man say, “When your spouse is feeling down, then you must help him/her up.” What wonderful, profound advice. If your wife is tired and irritable, fight the urge to throw a snowball at her and instead say, “Is there anything I can do to help?” or “Would you like a foot rub?” If your husband smashes his finger in the ladder while stringing Christmas lights, offer to kiss it instead of getting mad because he said naughty words. You can bring out the best or worse in your spouse, so make the most of every opportunity.

By going out of your way to be a great spouse, you can give your marriage the gift of love this holiday season.

Jenna D. Barry is the author of “A Wife’s Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.”  Married 14 years, Jenna has learned how to gain her husband’s loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  Her articles have been published in various newspapers and magazines.  She leads a support group for daughters-in-law and has a website at

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You can have a GREAT marriage, even if your in-laws aren't so great!

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You may be quick to blame your in-laws for your marriage problems, but in reality the biggest part of the problem isn't your in-laws, it's your husband's loyalty to them.  When a man marries, he is supposed to transfer his loyalty from his parents to his wife. His behavior plays a key role in how well you get along with his parents.  The goal of this book is to help you gain your husband's loyalty.

If you are in need of hope and encouragement, this book is for you!  Jenna Barry offers hilarious, heartfelt advice about how to have a terrific marriage in spite of difficult in-laws.  As a wife who has personally experienced the despair that comes from having an unsupportive partner, she suggests specific things to say and do to gain your husband's loyalty.  This book won't teach you how to become best friends with your in-laws, but it will teach you how to think and behave in a new way so they no longer have any power over you.  A Wife's Guide to In-laws has over 40 cartoons, two fun chapters written just for your hubby, and worksheets to help the two of you reach loving compromises about common problem issues.

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About Jenna

As a wife of 22 years, Jenna D. Barry (a pen name) has learned how to gain her husband's loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  She has familiarized herself with the needs and frustrations of other wives by participating in on-line in-law support groups and by talking to marriage therapists, friends, family, and co-workers.


Jenna is the author of the book, A Wife's Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents. She has been a radio guest on The Mike Bullard Show and her articles have been published in newspapers, websites, and magazines worldwide.  She writes monthly articles for Hitched Magazine and has been quoted in The Washington Times,, The London Free Press,, etc. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law right here.



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