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Relationship Stress During the Holidays

‘Tis the Season: Shopping, decorating, holiday gatherings, baking, wrapping, and still juggling the day to day responsibilities of work and home. It’s no wonder the holidays can create such stress in our lives and friction in relationships.  Unfortunately the enjoyment of the season can be lost when the tension invades your love life.  However, a few simple changes can help you to maintain peace and make the most of your time together during what is supposed to be a memorable and meaningful time of the year.

Make it a point to tell your partner something positive that you like about them every day.  Do they look nice or did you appreciate something they did?  Be sure to approach the season and your loved ones with an ‘attitude of gratitude.’  You’ll find it is contagious and sets the tone for positive interactions throughout the day! 

Take time each week to spend together relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  It’s easy to put this one on hold during the holiday season since there are often so many holiday gatherings that can consume your weekend time.  But if you set aside some time to spend together, even if it is taking an hour or two before or after a holiday party, the benefits can go a long way.  Spending some of this time reflecting on memories from previous holidays can be a delight!  Talk about your joys from the past year, your favorite holiday memories, the events you are looking forward to in the year ahead.  You will be quickly reminded that it isn’t the ‘things’ that matter, it is the love and the relationships that make the season so special.

Listen to your partner. With all of the activity at this time of year, tension can build up within each of us as we run from one activity to another.  It is therapeutic just to feel heard.  By listening to what your partner is saying, any tension that they may have accumulated throughout the day could be diminished simply by feeling you have listened to them.  When they feel less tense, you will too!

Remember the ‘Reason for the Season.’  Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwaanza, the message remains the same:  Spread peace, be thankful and remember that the joy comes from giving rather than receiving.  Being a giver during the holidays as a partner and a friend by listening, slowing down to take time for each other, and being thankful for the simple pleasures in life, can recharge a relationship and help you to get the coming New Year off to a great start!

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Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC