As the holiday season comes around, it is common for couples to experience an increase in stress. For couples, in particular, stress can manifest from visiting family, attending holiday work parties, deciding how much to spend on gifts, and/or hosting family gatherings. It is often miscommunication and misunderstandings that cause a couple to argue vs. enjoying this time of year. Below are a few suggestions I offer couples as a way to maximize their happiness and reduce relationship strain during the holiday season.
1). Plan Ahead - review your schedule for the holiday month. Events like office parties, family gatherings, celebrations with friends, etc., should be discussed with your partner at the beginning of the month. Doing so can help prevent the stress that often results when a couple makes conflicting plans. Aside from discussing it, marking it on a calendar is imperative to remembering what was discussed and minimize unnecessary follow up and/or scheduling conflicts that can lead to arguments.
2). Discuss Your Expectations - once you are both aware of upcoming commitments, the next step is to talk about what each of you expects from the other. In other words, do you view your partner’s presence at an event as an indication of how much they care about you? Is there a preference for which family gets visited this year or first? Such questions, often lead to arguments if unanswered. Getting clarification beforehand can help prevent feelings of disappointment, sadness and/or anger.
3). Review your budget - establishing a plan regarding how much each of you will spend on each other and/or on family can also help prevent relationship strain. Some areas that couples will experience strain tend to be around one person going over budget, one partner buying gifts for members that the other partner thought was unnecessary, etc. Reviewing your budget and setting expectations about holiday gifts, early-on, can help keep you both on the same page and reduce the chances of arguing.
4). Compromise - one of the best things a couple can do during the holiday season is get comfortable with compromising. Sharing the holidays with a significant other means you most likely will have to split your time with both sets of friends and family. Making comprises like spending the eve of a major holiday with your partner’s family and the actual holiday with your family or vice versa can help you both feel like you are getting something without sacrificing everything.
Aside from the suggestions above, do you have any others that you would recommend to help couples make the most of the holiday season? If so, please share them below.
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Christine M. Valentín
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