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10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays as a New Couple

Your first trip down holiday lane as a couple can be incredibly exciting. After all, it’s way more fun having a special someone to spend it with! The holiday season brings everyone closer — including you and your new partner.

Of course, along with the holiday season comes friends and family members to dissect your newly minted relationship. There is a lot of pressure when navigating the holidays as a new couple, which can put a damper on the excitement you feel as a new couple.

Luckily, we have some advice for keeping your fresh relationship in the giddy stage! Here are 10 tips for surviving the holidays as a new couple:

1. Define the Relationship Beforehand

Picture this: You walk into your partner’s home to meet their parents, and they hesitate about what to call you. Are you a boyfriend/girlfriend? Friend? “Special someone?”

It’s so awkward. This is why it’s imperative to have a discussion before either of you meets each other’s family. More importantly, your families should be given a heads up about the status of your relationship to avoid any unnecessary questioning. After all, you don’t want your parents interrogating your new partner when you know for a fact your relationship is only in it for the cuffing season.

2. Set Boundaries

If you know your family will grill your poor partner to the point of uncomfortable defeat, it’s best to have a discussion with them beforehand. Make it clear with your family what is okay (and not okay) to talk about in order to keep the peace over a holiday meal.

Along the same lines, you and your partner should also set clear boundaries about what can and cannot be discussed with each other’s relatives. It will save you both from incredibly awkward dinner conversations — and any equally awkward conversations between the two of you that follow.

Establishing boundaries is essential for any healthy relationship. Learn more about communicating your boundaries with Relish, our relationship coaching app! Try us free for one week.

3. Be Open to and Respect Different Traditions and Beliefs

If you are willing to spend the holidays with your new partner, you should also be willing to respect any different traditions and beliefs. It’s so important to embrace and appreciate each other's differences.

Talking about any cultural or religious traditions beforehand helps you avoid any awkward situations and allows you to decline any invitations you are not comfortable with.

4. Schedule Some Alone Time

Holiday parties, meeting new family members, and shopping for gifts can be so exhausting. If you’re able to, find a way to fit in some much-needed alone time. Go for a drive, relax for an hour in your bedroom, or go for a walk. Whatever it is, explain to your partner why you need a little space.

5. Check In With Each Other Often

The stress of the holidays can be a lot for some people, and some are better at hiding it than others. It’s always a good idea to check in with each other once the chaos of the holiday season is in full swing. Even if your partner is handling everything like a champ, they will still appreciate that you were thinking of them.

The Relish relationship coaching app offers frequent relationship check-ins for both you and your partner. Get access to therapist-approved quizzes, lessons, and advice from experts — your first week is free!

6. Try to Put a Pause on Arguments

Nothing screams “awkward” like fighting in front of friends and family. You shouldn’t just sweep any issues under the rug, but you shouldn’t make a big scene, either.

If conflict arises between you and your partner, take some brief time apart, even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes. Try to calm yourself, clear your head, and return for a mature conversation with your partner. If you can’t seem to resolve it, then temporarily set it aside for the sake of friends and family members.

7. Redirect Uncomfortable Topics/Questions

Before meeting up with friends and family, consult with each other about which topics you’d rather keep out of the dinner conversation. Come up with ways to respectfully redirect any uncomfortable questions from other guests.

8. Manage Your Expectations

The holiday season is supposed to be fun! Try not to go into it with certain expectations for how it will go. Whether you’re hoping to reach a certain relationship milestone or receive a specific gift, you’re bound to end up with some disappointment, which can seriously put a damper on the holiday spirit.

Have a casual conversation with your partner about gift-giving expectations to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation. Talk about what types of gifts each of you prefers and what the budget range is.

Most importantly, save all big “relationship talks” for after the New Year. Between family, friends, shopping, and potential work stress, the holidays aren’t the best time to bring up any expectations for the direction of your relationship.

9. If You Have Sex, Try to Be Quiet About It

It’s only natural to want to sneak off to the bedroom, even if it’s at your parents’ house. Whether or not you choose to get busy with family in the house is totally up to you, but if you do, try to keep the noise level at a minimum! (And lock the door, of course.)

10. Debrief With Each Other When the Holidays Are Over

There is a lot that can go wrong (and right!) during the holiday season, but whatever happens, don’t let it define your relationship. Once the gifts under the tree are opened and you settle in for the start of the new year, have a reflective conversation about your first holiday season as a couple.

If the holidays didn’t turn out exactly like you had hoped, it’s okay! It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. It’s so easy to get swept up in all of the holiday chaos that you forget to cut yourselves some slack. You have a whole new year to wipe the slate clean and plan out how your next holiday season can go a little smoother.

Spending the holidays together as a couple for the first time brings so many different emotions, ranging from excited to downright scared — and it’s all totally normal. Whether you’ve been dating for a few weeks or a few months, the different pressures that come with the holiday season are bound to have an impact.

Maintaining good communication and realistic expectations while tackling the holidays as a team will help strengthen your bond and bring you closer together. If you remain dedicated, open-minded, and supportive, you can make it through even the most exhausting holiday season. Once it’s over, make your plans for the New Year — you deserve some relaxing time together!

Once the holidays are over, the Relish relationship coaching app can help prepare your relationship for the New Year. Take therapist-approved quizzes, share lessons with each other, and talk to a real relationship coach any time of day. Download the app to unlock your 7-day free trial!

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