Daily Archives: December 18, 2017

What Ugly Christmas Sweaters Remind Me about Marriage

I do not understand the Ugly Christmas Sweater phenomenon.

Where I live, it’s become such a common trend that (1) my son told me he attended an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at college, and (2) I overheard a Target employee explaining to a customer that as soon as they put out the ugly Christmas sweaters, they were all swooped up.

Really? There are that many people who feel they absolutely must own an ugly Christmas sweater?

In case you haven’t seen any of these, here is a sampling, brought to you by uglychristmassweater.com:

Snowman sweater Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sweater Jesus, Mary & Joseph take a selfie sweater

As someone who tries to “fight the frump” and feel good about myself each day, it’s never really appealed to me to wear a hideous sweater — especially as a way to celebrate Christmas.

But as I was thinking about this fad, I realized that it has three positives:

  1. It demonstrates that one ugly garment doesn’t take away from our whole appearance.
  2. It shows that we like to belong — that people want to share a trend.
  3. It’s a way for us to just be silly with one another.

Hmmm, sounds a bit like marriage to me.

1. One flaw doesn’t take away from how we view each other.

The longer you’re married, the more you likely feel this way. Because even if your spouse seemed flawless when you married them, twenty or thirty years later, body parts have shifted (thanks, gravity!), not to mention that you’ve discovered some personality traits or quirks that you could probably live without. Your spouse has features that are likely the equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater.

But it’s the person in the sweater that you’ve built a life with, that you adore, that you still find as sexy as ever. And if not’s quite true, maybe you’re spending too much time looking at the “sweater” and not enough time appreciating the person.

2. We like to belong and share.

One of the best things I ever get to say about my husband is just that: my husband.  That possessive pronoun my indicates that he belongs to me, and when he says, “my wife,” it shows that I belong to him. When you signed up for marriage, you signed up to belong to something bigger than yourself — a lifelong trend of becoming one.

Sometimes we forget how much belonging matters to us — when we get busy and spend so much time with work, children, or even ministry that we don’t connect regularly with our spouse; when we neglect sharing our thoughts and feelings and dreams, or stop listening to our spouse’s; when we characterize sex as merely a physical thing that one can do without, instead of understanding it as a conduit of intimacy. Remember that feeling like you belong together is an important part of marriage and needs to regularly nurtured.

3. Just be silly with one another.

I just love that my husband and I have inside jokes. We have a shared sense of humor — the kind that sometimes makes our kids roll their eyes while we’re clutching our bellies in laughter. The ugly Christmas sweater trend gives a strong nod to the notion that we all like to have some silliness in our lives. We want something that makes us smile, laugh, and even roll our eyes.

Marriage is an opportunity to have someone to share those moments with. I suspect many spouses married in part because their mate had a similar sense of humor. But how are we doing in keeping that alive? Do we foster opportunities to laugh? To play? To just be silly? Even in the bedroom?

I’m not quite ready to run out and purchase an ugly Christmas sweater. However, I am willing to learn something about marriage from this trend and ask myself how we’re doing on perspective, belonging, and silliness.

Now, how are you doing?

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