Presence Over Presents: Five Gifts Money Can’t Buy For Your Spouse

The Christmas season is one full of endless to-do lists, card writing to family and friends you rarely see, and last-minute gift buying and present hiding. It’s full of hot cocoa, Christmas carols, messy homes from entertaining and pillow forts, and early giggles on Christmas morning.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, it can be so easy to become consumed with buying gifts and being the perfect hostess, that we forget to rekindle the emotional aspect of our relationships. Sure, it’s fun to give and to receive gifts at the holidays, but I’ve been reminded that the greatest gift was the birth of Jesus. He came so we could be offered the chance to accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior, experience hope in the tumultuous storms of life, and experience the beauty of the marriage relationship.

This holiday season, let’s think about these five gifts we can offer our spouse:

1. Choose presence over presents.
While the holiday parties, family gatherings, school programs, class parties, church potlucks, and holiday errands seem overwhelming during the holiday season, it is important to choose presence over presents. Perhaps the gift we need to focus on for our spouse is the gift of quality time. Calendars fill up, events come and go, but our relationship with our spouse still needs to be prioritized. It can be so easy to put one another on the back burner during the changing and busy seasons of life; but it’s important to carve out time, even if it isn’t very long, to spend quality time with our spouses. They are our life partners and support system. They love us when we are dolled up and when we are walking around in sweatpants and oversized t-shirts from overeating during the holidays.

2. Dream big together.
As we approach the New Year, I’ve been reminded that God has great things in store for us; personally, and in our marriages. He doesn’t desire a life or marriage of mediocrity, but one full of treasured memories, belly laughs, epic family dance parties, slow dancing in the kitchen with our spouse, beautiful date nights where we walk hand-in-hand and realizing it is a beautiful thing to have dreams and use our God-given talents. Life is not about seeing our own name in lights, but honoring God and using the unique talents and abilities He has so graciously given us.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse reminds me that God wants the best for our lives and our marriages. If He is the center, the possibilities are endless.

3. Make a silly memory.
It can be so easy to become more like stagnant business partners than genuine best friends when you are consumed with wrangling children, earning that promotion at work, trying to finish a degree, and trying to put a dent in the accrued debt. We must be intentional in our time together and know it’s okay to be silly and make memories. Sure, children still need storytime and bedtime prayers, playdoh towers can still be built, dinner needs to be made, and graduate school homework needs to be turned in. However, we need to carve out time to water our marriage relationship so it blossoms rather than wither away.

Lysa TerKeurst left me awestruck and convicted when she said, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

Sometimes we need to plan less on our social calendars and family schedules so there is time to feed the soul of our marriage. We must be intentional in what we schedule and be mindful of leaving time to make memories and just be. The best memories aren’t made by living a lavish lifestyle, they are made in the every day. It’s the flirty snowball fights with our spouse and the board games that lead to tickle fights that we treasure for the rest of our lives.

4. Polish your communication skills.
As both partners grow and evolve as individuals, it is important to continue polishing your communication skills. The longer a couple is together, the more comfortable you are together, and the easier it can be to become stagnant and stale in conversation. Take time to get to know your spouse, ask about work, ask how you can pray for them. Then, go above and beyond and ask what music they are currently into the best meal or snack they’ve had recently, and their current go-to coffee creamer. The little things matter!

Tony Gaskins wisely said, “Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it … it dies.”

We want our relationship to breathe in the beauty of how God intended marriage. Praying for one another and together is a gift that is beyond any price tag. Praying together and for one another changes things faster than the smiles and convenience Amazon Prime can offer during the holidays.

5. Continue to fall in love.
I was so excited to join Disney Plus when it launched because of the classic (and clean!) adorable love stories from my childhood. Who doesn’t love a good Prince and Princess uniting to change the world together? While it is so fun to relive, it has also reminded me that movie love stories are great, but falling in love, each and every day – that is a real love story. An authentic love story is not love at first sight … it is choosing one another over and over again. It’s prioritizing your relationship. It’s those 30 minutes of intentional conversation when the kids are finally in bed. It’s the wink at the dinner table when you are covered in baby spit-up and your hair is a mess.

Marriage is the constantly evolving story of forgiveness, intentionality, grace, sacrifice, and compassion.

The gift of being present for your spouse is a joy far beyond anything that credit cards can buy.


Lizzy Christian is a toddler-chasing, coffee-sipping, firefighter wife, and vacuuming enthusiast who has a passion for writing. She is the founder of the Fire Wife Chronicles, which is geared on topics of motherhood, marriage, first responder family life & faith/hope. Lizzy received her undergrad in Crisis Counseling from Liberty University and her Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling – Crisis Response and Trauma from Liberty University’s Graduate School. She is a two-time NYC Marathon finisher and avid runner, and former School Counselor and Athletic Director. Lizzy married her high school sweetheart and together they have a son and a daughter. Visit for additional resources and upcoming projects.

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