The holidays are here, which means, for many, added stress on their relationships. If this sounds like you, consider the following ideas for how you and your partner can make it through the holidays together with a little joy intact.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
One big stressor on a relationship is feeling the need to scramble at the last-minute to get things done for the sake of holiday tradition and gathering. This could be anything ranging from:
- Purchasing food for special meals.
- Making accommodations for guests.
- Coming up with gift ideas.
- Arranging flights to visit family.
Plus, add to the mix the typical craziness of balancing work and family, and you have one stressful situation. That’s why you and your partner ought to sit down beforehand to plan everything out. Make a list of what you think you will need and divide the list accordingly.
Tip #2: Split Tasks Evenly
Couples often fall into the trap where one partner does all the work while the other thinks it’s a chance to kick back and to relax. This uneven division of labor can cause resentment for the partner who is burdened with all of the holiday tasks. Meanwhile, the other partner is unaware of their partner’s feelings. This creates a recipe for conflict during what should be a happy time. To avoid resentment, partners should communicate with each other on who should do which jobs. For example:
- Determine who buys the gifts.
- Decide who runs which errands.
- Divvy up the setting up of decorations.
- Designate who will purchase food for various meals.
When it comes to meals in particular, share together the responsibility for preparing and serving the meal. That way it becomes an experience that both of you can share and enjoy together.
Tip #3: Know When to Say “No”
Do all of your relatives want to visit for the holidays? Great! But tell them that they have to make the travel and lodging arrangements, not you. If you would like to have some people stay in your home, tell your family members that they can determine who stays where. Is your aunt planning on bringing her little dog which also likes to chew furniture? Tell her diplomatically that she can leave her pet at the kennel. Remember, it’s your home. Others should be respectful of your space.
Tip #4: Make a Budget
The holiday season can hit your wallet particularly hard. This, in turn, becomes a significant source of stress for any couple desiring to provide gifts while needing to stay on budget. Agree ahead of time how much of your finances you both want to put towards holiday celebrations. Hold each other accountable with spending and make sure to stick to the agreed-upon budget.
Tip #5: Make Time for Each Other
Whether you are hosting the whole family or traveling around to relatives all season, your time and interactions can be overwhelming and stressful. That’s why it is important for both of you to make time for each other. Try these tips for a bit of reconnection:
- Get up early and have a warm drink together at the kitchen table.
- Take a walk together.
- Plan an activity for “just the two of you.”
- Go to the gym for a workout.
- Play a board game or cards.
Use these moments to let each other know how you’re doing emotionally and to process each day. Ask each other what you can do to support one another.
The holidays can leave all of us feeling like we are being pulled in too many directions. Therefore, rather than let the chaos of the season cause damage to your relationship, find ways to actually strengthen it. Facing the holidays together as a team, knowing that you have each other’s back, is a gift you’ll both cherish long after the chaos has faded into the new year.
Denise Kautzer is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Certified Public Accountant whose practice is located in St. Paul, MN. You can view her website at www.denisekautzer.com or contact her at email@example.com