How to be a Good Spouse at the Christmas Party

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM:

There is no getting around it – holiday parties can be dreaded events. As if being forced to spend time with colleagues you avoid like the plague during work hours isn’t bad enough, you’re supposed to be, well, merry. The only thing worse than attending a Christmas party at your own office is going as your spouse’s “plus one.”

But what if the Christmas party could actually help your relationship? What if your presence could bring value to your spouse’s professional life? What if attending could be one of the best gifts you give your spouse all year? If you have the right attitude, you can reap a lot of relational benefits from the Christmas party. Here are some pointers:

1)   You get a snapshot of your spouse’s life 40+ hours a week. If you are like a lot of couples, there is an extremely good chance that the people at your spouse’s workplace get to see him more than you do. Sure, you get to hold his hand, raise children together and go to bed with him at night, but when you subtract the hours that you spend sleeping, commuting, eating and other such necessary activities, there might not be a lot left over for you. The Christmas party is your chance to step into your spouse’s world. Who does he interact with all day? What makes him so passionate about his job? How does he interact with others? How does he treat his direct reports? What does he really have to put up with from his boss? These answers give you new insight into your spouse – a very valuable thing in marriage if you want it to last.

2)   You get to see your spouse through the eyes of another. It is inevitable that over the years, we all have a tendency to put our spouses in a box. You have preconceived notions of what she likes, how she behaves in certain situations, and how she gets work accomplished. But her colleagues might have a radically different perception of her. When she is at work, her quirky sense of humour might have more air to breathe than at home rushing through dinner and homework duties. Her ability to manage a team might look drastically different than her attempts to support the elementary school fundraiser. What do your spouse’s colleagues appreciate about her? How does she bring value to her workplace? Discovering the answers might reveal a side of her that you haven’t seen in a while.

3)   You have the opportunity to make your spouse look good. Ultimately, this is the greatest gift you give your spouse. If you show up at the party with a great attitude, mingle with others, show interest in your spouse’s colleagues and behave respectfully (no heavy drinking, no tacky comments, no inappropriate outfits and no bugging the boss about overtime), your spouse will reap the benefits professionally, and you will reap them personally.

The holiday season is about sharing love and kindness to those around us. It is about slowing down enough to appreciate the small but significant things in life. Allow this holiday cheer to extend to your spouse’s Christmas party and into your relationship for the New Year.