No matter how much we prepare or how many times I tell myself that I won’t let the stress of the holiday season stress my relationship, there are things that inevitably creep up around the holidays that can cause a strain on any relationship, whether you’ve just started dating or you’ve been together for a very long time.
The holidays should be about happiness and fun and most of the time, they are all of those things, but the reality is, they can also bring a lot of stress, and they can also cause a lot of stress between you and your significant other.
Have an honest conversation about spending
Before the holiday craziness starts, it’s a good idea to sit down with your significant other and have a conversation about exchanging gifts with one another and spending limits. If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, this conversation is going to feel a lot easier than if the relationship is new, but it’s an important conversation to have so that you’re both on the same page. Outside of exchanging gifts with one another, it will relieve a lot of stress if you’re honest about spending limits and financial situations so that you can minimize any financial stress and pressure.
Get on the same page about your Holiday To-Do List
It’s a good idea to chat about the things you both want to accomplish this holiday season as well. This may sound like a silly thing in theory, but getting on the same page as far as what you want to tackle sets fair expectations on both sides. If you want to get your tree together and take a lot of Instagram worthy photos and watch as many Holiday movies as possible and your significant other wants to hit up every holiday party and event possible, you’re not going to be on the same page until you talk about it and understand what each other want and why.
Have a funny saying or safe word when things are getting stressful
This one is another one that sounds really silly, but is actually very practical in use. I find it helpful when I notice my boyfriend is getting really stressed in a situation with friends or if he’s noticing me overanalyzing something in a social situation, we’ll say something really silly to one another that reminds the other to take a moment to breathe, remember to laugh, and break the cycle of stress.
Connect in small ways
The holidays are really, really busy. Sometimes it feels like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. We forget to check in with one another, and that can feel incredibly lonely at times. I like to create a ritual of kissing under the mistletoe (or where our mistletoe would be if I could find some anywhere this year). It’s a small reminder for us to connect physically every time we walk by the space, and something that brings us together at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day as we’re leaving or coming home. It’s simple and sweet and I look forward to it, especially during long, stressful days.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Okay, so this one is really meant for me to read over and over again, because I have a very difficult time accepting the idea that everything does not have to be perfect. I strive for perfection in almost everything I do, and I get very flustered when things don’t go the way I had pictured them to go in my head. As you can imagine, that leads to a lot of frustration and stress, especially for my boyfriend (poor Larry) who sometimes takes the brunt of my frustration with the latest project I am working on, or decoration that I am trying to make perfect, or recipe that I am trying to perfect. He is always the first to remind me that things don’t always have to be perfect in order to enjoy them, and that what’s more important is being together and enjoying time together. Sometimes I forget that enjoying imperfect moments is usually way more fun than stressing over making things perfect.
Take on everything as a team
There are so many external factors that come into play during the holidays that affect your relationship, including friends and family, that it’s important to always communicate with one another and try to tackle everything as a unified front. One of the things that we have the most difficult time trying to navigate is how to split our time during the actual holiday. Both of our families are large and celebrate in big ways, and both families are used to each of us being part of everything, so we’re each missed if we are not there. This lends to us feeling guilty if we miss anything, and sometimes trying to stretch ourselves too thin. At times, I’ve offered for each of us to go separate ways for holidays so neither of us felt like we were giving up any time with our family, but we quickly realized we’d be giving up the holiday with each other that way. It’s difficult to feel like you’re disappointing people you love, but you can only do the best that you can, and your family will understand that. Be open with your significant other with how you’re feeling, what’s important to you, and make sure that you’re supportive when they tell you how they’re feeling as well. Work together to figure out what works best for both of you, and tackle everything as a team. Always be respectful of each other, and make sure that those around you are being respectful of your significant other as well, including your family.
The best way to bond during the holiday season and to avoid the stress the holidays can put on your relationship is to create an atmosphere of communication, honesty, trust and love.
What are some things that cause stress in your relationship during the holidays? What do you do to help strengthen your relationship during the holidays? Let me know in the comments.