How your relationship can survive the holidays!
Why can the holidays be so tough on our relationships?
The Holidays conjure up pictures of the family nestled together around the dinner table, romantic fires and days off to spend with those you love in blissful holiday merriment! That’s all wonderful, and can come with a feeling of tradition and increased feelings of positivity and warmth! However, for relationships, having to compare your relationships and your feelings of merriment and joy to the iconic images of the holiday season can bring increased pressure and expectation for things to be harmonious and perfect! This can bring stress and pressure when we feel we don’t measure up!
1. Set Expectations to avoid disappointment…for everyone!
People only feel disappointed when the reality of what occurs, does not match what they THOUGHT was going to occur. These are called expectations, and we rarely discuss them! However, they can get us and our relationships into a lot of trouble. So, if your partner, or your parents, or your in laws expect that you will be spending all of your “holiday time” for instance with them, they will be disappointed if this doesn’t or cannot occur.
Think about what your expectations are for the holidays and ask others to let you know what they think will happen or what they hope/expect will happen. Then think about the things that you want to do. It is important to express to others, as soon as possible, what they can expect from your participation in the holidays, as early as possible! When people know what to expect they adjust their ideas to that new expectation faster than we think.
2. Have holi-dates!
Yes, the holidays are here, things are busy and schedules get packed. But there is no reason that the things you normally do to connect with your partner or to de-stress with your partner need to get put on the back burner until after the New Year! When we put off our usual commitments (date night) in favour of the busy holiday schedule we are more prone to holiday disconnection from our partners, in a time that we often crave more connection!
AND, if you want to infuse some holiday into your usual dates, be sure to plan some holiday related dates that are JUST for you and your partner. Go shopping one evening together for the kids’ presents, make that reservation at your favourite restaurant that looks so good at Christmas time, book that Christmas concert together, or have one night in front of the fire! Your relationship is much more likely to survive the holidays when you create special date nights, even amidst the holiday rush!
3. Put all hot button holiday topics on the table…early!
Because of the busyness and the pressures that can sometimes exist during the holidays, sometimes we need to “name them” and put them out on the table, BEFORE we get in the thick of things. So, MONEY, for example. Often in relationships, people are different with respect to how to save or spend money, and during the holiday season these differences can get us into trouble!
So, don’t assume…sit down with your partner and talk about what the holidays should look like money wise, which includes how you would like to spend your finances on each other. Then, agree to this budget etc, and do not stray.
It can be a really fun and interesting experiment to take money right off the table when it comes to your relationship gifts this year! So, as a fun break, see what happens when you both agree that you are not allowed to spend any money on each other this Christmas, but can make or do anything for that person to show you love them over the season?
Also - ask to see your partners Christmas to-do list and ask if there is anything you can do on it for them to make their holiday less stressful. Another tip here is that women are still carrying more of the holiday burden as compared to their male counterparts, so try making a list of all the things you do at Christmas or would love some help with (cooking, the wrapping, the holiday cards) and see if your partner can help with any of these items! Doing this can help with another hot button relationship topic-when one partner feels as though they are doing more than the other over the holidays
4. Don’t put added pressure on yourself
The holidays are a time to get re-connected with your friends, family, and YOURSELF! I think the holidays can work to make us feel as though we have to measure up to June Clever with a perfect turkey or Christmas house or that we have to BE the Norman Rockwell Christmas! BUT, the key to being happy and having happy holiday relationships and lowering your stress level is this: If you don’t normally cook and like to get take out, then don’t try to stress yourself that you MUST become the best cook one day out of the year! Let the holidays reflect the way you normally do things the whole year!
So, if you are a take out person, get your party catered or provide the desserts, house and wine, and have others who DO love to show off their cooking bring the food! If you are normally a hotel person when you travel and like to come and go on your visits, then DO NOT feel the need to stay for a full week in someone else’s home when it just isn’t your thing and you would normally never do that
5. Holidays are for SINGLE people too! So, don’t forget to nurture the relationship with yourself!
Much of Christmas is often built around romantic ideas of being with a partner. But, it is important that if you find yourself without a partner this holiday season that you don’t decide ahead of time that you therefore are not allowed or will NOT have a wonderful holiday season!
It is important to nurture your sense of self during the holidays and to enjoy the things you have and can celebrate this year. Enjoy your friends, enjoy your family, enjoy your peaceful alone time, and most of all enjoy all the things that get you into the Christmas spirit without being coupled up!