Tis the Season! 5 Ways to Prepare Your Relationship for Holiday Stress
The holiday season is in full-swing! While it can bring a lot of excitement, it can also cause a lot of stress. The chaos of holiday shopping, house guests, and an insane amount of cooking can take a toll on your sanity, which can unfortunately transfer to your relationship.
There is research that suggests there are two “peak” times for breakups: springtime and two weeks before Christmas. Why the latter? There are a few different reasons, including one partner not wanting to introduce the other to their family, an end-of-the-year realization that they are with the wrong person, or an inability to handle the stress of the season.
If you and your partner are in it for the long run, remember to keep one key factor in mind during the holiday season: You’re a team! When you tackle the holidays together, keep communication open, and prioritize your relationship, you can start off the new year stronger and more connected.
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So, as the year comes to an end, it’s important to make a relationship game plan for taking on the holidays as a couple. Here are seven tips to prepare your relationship for holiday stress:
1. Discuss Spending and Gifts Beforehand
Having a conversation about gift-giving expectations is a great way to avoid an unintentionally uncomfortable situation. Each of you should lay out your expectations for exchanging presents, but keep it a casual conversation! Talk about what kind of gifts you prefer — do you like more thoughtful, sentimental gifts or something more practical or useful? What kind of budget are you looking at? Do you want to keep it small or go all out?
When the two of you get a better idea of your gift-giving expectations, it helps you avoid buying something they don’t like. When you’re on the same page about giving and receiving presents, you don’t have to worry about a potentially awkward gift exchange.
2. Create Your Own Traditions
Each of you probably has your own holiday traditions created during childhood, and you should keep them! On top of finding ways to incorporate each other’s traditions, you can create your own.
Think about what you would both enjoy during the holidays. It’s fun to come up with ideas as a couple! Maybe you want to spend Christmas Eve eating pizza and watching classic holiday movies or buy each other a new tree ornament every year. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something both of you are excited about.
Creating traditions together helps strengthen your bond and keep you feeling connected when life gets crazy. You’ll have your new traditions to look forward to every year, making the holidays together even more special.
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3. Respect Your Differences
If your holidays looked completely different from your partner’s growing up, it’s important to respect that! If you have cultural or religious differences, you can find ways to incorporate them into any traditions you create together.
While you might want to focus most of your attention on your plans as a couple, it’s necessary to make room for any traditions that are important to your partner. It’s also helpful to compromise! Maybe your partner has always decorated for Christmas in early November, and you’ve always waited until December, so you compromise by starting the week of Thanksgiving. Embracing each other’s differences and finding ways to incorporate them into your relationship is important for any healthy, happy relationship.
4. Skip or Limit Family Gatherings If You Need To
The holidays are all about creating treasured memories, and if family gatherings are nothing but stress-inducing, it’s probably best to skip or limit them.
Many people feel obligated to see family members when the holidays roll around, but if it feels more like a burden than something fun, it might not be worth it. Maybe you’re not financially prepared for a big trip or you’d rather keep the holidays small with just you and your partner.
Whatever the reason, it’s okay to be honest with your family about it. You can say something like, “You know I love you guys, but we just aren’t able to make it this year.” Or, if spending time with each other’s extended families is important, you can alternate whose family you see each year. (Unless you’re all able to celebrate together, of course.)
5. Check In With Each Other
Strong communication is vital for any healthy relationship, especially during the holiday season. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos, and when that happens, you might end up taking it out on your partner.
It’s important that you and your partner make communication a priority by checking in with each other frequently. Relationship check-ins are a chance for both of you to reconnect and address any concerns or issues you might be having. Since things can be a little hectic toward the end of the year, it’s easy to sweep problems under the rug, but this should be the time to prioritize each other’s happiness and well-being.
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6. Manage Drinking
A holiday party is the perfect event to let loose, and while you and your partner should definitely have some fun, it might be helpful to keep an eye on how much you drink. No one wins in an alcohol-infused argument, and you’re more likely to say things you completely regret.
Most importantly, be sure to prioritize your safety! Statistics show that 28 percent of fatal car crashes in the month of December involve drunk drivers. It’s no secret that people tend to drink more around the holidays, and it’s totally fine to do so as long as you have a safe way to get home. (Ride-sharing is the perfect option!)
7. Plan Some Time for Just the Two of You
The holiday season is filled with dinners and get-togethers with friends and family, so it’s important to make time for just the two of you to hang out. If you let your relationship get put on the back burner, you’re more likely to feel disconnected. Plan a date night or relaxing night in, catch up, and have fun together.
If you have to adjust your normal routine during the holidays (maybe you have family staying with you for a few days), try to create little rituals of connection. Kiss each other hello and goodbye, hold hands while sitting on the couch, or send each other sweet text messages. Even if you’re incredibly busy, you can still create little romantic moments that make a significant impact.
The holiday season can be exhausting, but if you and your partner remain dedicated, open-minded, and united, you can make it through together!
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