You may be already managing stress in your relationship, and now the holidays can bring on even more. I asked our relationship experts how couples can manage these challenges better and enjoy this time of year! Our free course offers these tips on how to survive the holidays with your partner and grow in your relationship. You can find our course here.
1. Be kind
During the holidays, there are often a lot of different reasons to be frustrated, angry, and bitter. Being depressed or just over-stressed from the holidays can tend to make us more short-tempered, resulting in us lashing out.
It can be easy to say things that once it comes out of our mouth, we wish we hadn’t said it. So finding ways that we can prevent that is important.
When hurtful things are at the tip of your tongue, step away and excuse yourself from the situation if you can. Take time to take six deep breaths and when you are calm, only then return to the situation.
Then you can go back and try to make up and be gentler in the situation. Try to have a positive spin on what you are dealing with, rather than letting your anger bottle up.
Don’t forget to be kinder to yourself too. Because oftentimes if we are angry and short-tempered, we are often not being kind to ourselves.. It’s important to be sure you are kind to yourself, as well as to those around you.
2. Handling money at the holidays
During the holidays, money can often be a cause of stress and more arguments between you and your partner. You and your partner may disagree or have different perspectives on what your money situation should look like during (and after) the holidays.
You both may have different thoughts of what gifts represent, and different traditions that you would want to carry on. But it’s important to talk through these different perspectives and opinions on budgeting and the holidays.
Even after discussing your different thoughts, you may still not totally agree. But, at least you can come to a deeper understanding about why your partner believes in that specific perspective on the holidays. Or why it is so important to them.
You can then have an appreciation for why they feel the way they do, and they can do the same for you and your perspectives. You can have mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s opinions.Want to get some advice for handling relationship stress around the holidays from some of our experts? Check out our free course here!
3. Avoiding arguments about family
Pay special attention to how you are handling arguments about family members. It can be a very common argument between couples, even those in the healthiest relationships.
Too often pointed language can be used towards a partner’s family members, which causes that partner to be hurt and upset. This leads to a heated argument and stress that is not needed at this time of year.
This pointed language can come off as criticism of that family member, which can be hurtful to your partner causing tension in your relationship.
How can you avoid this?
A way to avoid this cause of arguments is to shift your perspective to one of learning. Look at your partner’s family in a new light and with a learning mindset. Pretend as if you are getting to know them for the first time, even if you have known them for years.
Shifting our perspective to a learning perspective gives us an opportunity to take away common biases that have grown over the years and see our partner’s family differently.
This also helps take away judgments and see them from an understanding point of view. You will end up showing them more love and having more compassion. This results in your heart growing fonder for your in-laws, which also helps grow your relationship with your partner grow closer as well.Using this new perspective lets you understand your partner’s family’s background, what causes them to do what they do, why they believe what they believe, and more. Even though this may be different from what you believe, you can still have an understanding for them.
4. Finish those arguments
Keep that learning perspective in mind when we talk about the next tip…iIf you are having the same argument often with your partner, finish it!
Even if that argument is weeks or months ago, you may have new insights, new emotions, or new perspectives on the topic. That is something that should be touched on and discussed.
Too often arguments are looked at from a negative perspective and we think how horrible the argument is and how we don’t want to open it back up. But, there are these new feelings and emotions that should be addressed.
Shifting to a learning perspective will help you work through what the argument is about. How can you learn about yourself from this argument? What can you learn about your partner from this argument? What can you learn about your relationship?
Having a growth perspective can help you and your partner figure out what you can learn from the situation.
Try opening that conversation back up with your partner. Share that you had a new realization and want to share this with them. Ask how they might feel talking about the situation again and that discussing it might help you grow together.
This can help you not only learn something about yourself as an individual, but as a couple. Look at it using a growth mindset, as well as a learning mindset. This will help you share with each other and bond more as a couple.If this issue is particularly charged for the two of you, you may wish to talk to a relationship coach first.
5. Mentally rehearse typical stressors
Try not to overdo things at this time of year, which can happen too easily for many people. Ask for help if need be rather than trying to do things on your own. There is no need to go above and beyond and end up making yourself more miserable.
Don’t allow yourself to get tired, irritable, or overwhelmed, which would just end up with you not enjoying the holidays. If visiting family is a known stressor, have an agreement about how you both will deal with it, in advance.
You may need to rehearse and plan for predictably irritating relatives. Make sure you have a friend to complain to… but don’t complain about your marriage.
Just having someone that you can speak with and get out your feelings will help you work through your stressors.
6. Manage your self-care
Making sure to show yourself some self-care is extremely important at this time of year, and will definitely make an impact on your relationship.
If you drink too much or eat too much, it might become more difficult to hold up your end of the deal. So remember to take this into account and that it may not help you manage the stressors that come your way during the holidays.
Be on purpose and set appropriate boundaries for yourself. This means watching your alcohol intake. The effect of too much alcohol during the holiday season can have a negative impact on your relationship and you both want to be on your best behavior until New Years’ Day.
Have a frank discussion with your partner about how you can both refrain from using too much alcohol as stress relief. You don’t want to end up with heated arguments later or deal with the impact of bad choices made in the moment.
Take the time for some self-care in other ways. Find ways that you can relieve stress for yourself, and as a couple. Maybe that looks like taking a short nap, or staying in to watch a movie instead of running to the next event.
Make your self-care a priority and it will make a difference in your relationship.
7. Be in the moment
In every moment try to have a good time no matter what the circumstances may be.
The holidays may offer dozens of entertaining little distractions, so embrace them! Have gratitude for little pleasures with your kids, your family, perfect strangers, and (of course) your partner!
Manage relationship stress with our free course!
Want more ideas from our experts on how to handle relationship stress during the holidays? Our free course shares tips for best managing this time of year as a couple, and how to avoid any unnecessary challenges.
In the course you will also get a full walk through of what working with one of our therapists can look like for your relationship. If you are looking to get started and schedule your intensive before our fees go up on February 1, 2022, you can schedule a no obligation consultation call right from the course. You will be first in line when we re-open in January.