Do your in-laws drive you crazy? Are your partner's traditions totally different than yours? Here's how to keep it together during the holiday season.
Holiday stress can sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. On top of regular issues interpersonal stressors put on any type of relationship (be it straight, gay, familial, romantic, or friendly), the holidays can apply additional pressure. Gift-giving, decorating, party planning, and vacation arrangements are just some of the stressors that might pop up. During the eventful months leading up to the new year, many relationships under this kind of adversity will be put to the test.
Relationship holiday stress might quickly cause distress between a couple if it’s not addressed. Consider the following suggestions to help keep your relationships strong during this time and all year long:
Alternate whose side of the family you spend certain celebrations with. Don’t ignore one side of your family, or that partner is bound to feel slighted. Know that sometimes you may not be able to see your family on a holiday, and you’ll have to make other arrangements.
Create traditions of your own to tighten the bolts on your relationship. Make the holidays special by creating new, personal memories.
Figure out how you will handle your schedule and traditions ahead of time. Work as a team to stick to your plan.
Ensure that both people in the relationship are doing an equal part in planning and execution. Don’t let one person be entirely responsible for plans, because it’s too big a burden and resentments are bound to build.
Respect each others’ differences.
You and your partner might have very different ideas about how to spend the holidays. Even if you disagree, never put each others’ expectations or ideas down.
Take the time to relax.
Use meditation, breathing exercises, etc. to keep calm around the holidays. These simple measures can keep your blood pressure down and stop stress from making you sick.
Avoid “venting” to your partner about his or her parents.
Instead, have a sit-down and keep an open mind while discussing any problems you may have with your partner’s family.
Focus on what is most important in the relationship.
Let the small stuff fall to the wayside. Remember that the holiday season will pass soon enough, and life will calm back down! Thing long term, and let small arguments go.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653