The holiday season is stressful enough even just by yourself. But when you throw in the expectations of in-laws, a social calendar that’s bursting at the seams, new traditions, impromptu family reunions and “well-intentioned” siblings, letting the good times roll can take a little bit of extra work.
All the holiday shenanigans can lead to some major stress and pressure on you and your partner as you try to balance it all. The strain can also leave you with little emotional energy and patience for your other half. So, when the going gets tough (and trust me it will) it’s important to remember that you and your partner are in this together – rather than snap at them about annoying family members.
There are a few things we can do to protect our relationships from the inevitable holiday stress. However you decide to work out the holidays with your partner, I’ve put together some of my top tips to help have a happy holiday season together.
1. Compromise on family stuff during the holiday season
At this time of year, everyone is pretty demanding of our time. Family, friends, bosses. Where you both end up having your Christmas Turkey is probably a hot topic for most couples at this time of year. I know. Christmas is a BIG DEAL for your mum. But you can’t split yourself in half.
The main thing to keep in mind is compromise. Either way, someone’s mum is going to be pissed. Take turns. If you haven’t already, sit down and have a chat about your family traditions and what they mean to you, so when the time comes to shuffle things around you’re starting from a place of understanding.
Think about the other holidays out there. You might have to split them up. Your mum can take Christmas this year, and their mum can take it on the next. If you’re not doing Christmas Day at mum’s, maybe have a nice Christmas Eve get together instead. At the end of the day, it’s just about spending time with the people you love and sharing your life with your partner.
2. Don’t rely on your partner for all of your support
While our partners are a big part of our support system, they can’t take it all. It’s not realistic to expect your partner to be able to meet your needs all the time.
It’s crucial to have support networks outside of your relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to lean on each other. But if you rely on your partner for all your support, you miss out on strengthening the other important relationships you have in your life – and perhaps more importantly understanding how you can support yourself.
Reach out to the full spectrum of support you have. Your family and friends are all there to help take on the stress load too. Sometimes we need to have a wee vent about our partners so we don’t end up killing them – and that’s okay!
3. Stand up for your partner
Sometimes our families can be pretty hard work. If your parents are anything like mine then your partner’s in for it this holiday season, if they haven’t already felt the full wrath of the in-laws already.
In all the chaos, sometimes those little digs and comments can start slipping through, especially where your partner’s concerned. While everyone’s entitled to their opinion – whether they don’t like your spouse or they have a few “helpful suggestions”, it’s important to stand up for your partner and your relationship, respectfully of course.
You’re in this together, so it’s important to let your partner know that you’ll always defend them no matter who’s saying what for a happy holiday season.
4. Choose To Be Kind
When things get a little stressful, your partner is usually the first one to bear the brunt of all the tension. But it’s important to remember one little thing – you actually love each other! And as tough as things get, try to keep reminding yourself of that.
Pick your battles wisely. With gift buying, parties, gatherings and the end of year work to wrap up, mastering the art of flexibility and patience with your partner is crucial to making it out in one piece. As Bruce Lee said, be like water and go with the flow.
Rather than yelling, and letting your frustrations but, remember that kindness is a choice. And while sometimes it may not be the easiest one, when you think of all the reasons you’re together in the first place, it gets a whole lot easier.
5. Keep Up The Romance
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – especially when it comes to romance. While at this time of year, the calendar is usually stacked, don’t forget to steal away some one-on-one time with your partner with regular date nights for some much-needed intimacy.
Using apps like Cupla can be game-changing when it comes to organising your calendars and finding time together. Cupla is a calendar app specifically made for couples. It allows you to see your and your partner’s calendars in one place and even identifies the best spots for you to have Date Night.
When you do eventually find the time, make the most of the moment. Use this time to really connect with each other with skin to skin contact, meaningful exchanges and eye contact.
6. Lay out the expectations
Everyone has “their version” of what a happy holiday season is supposed to look like, where you’re supposed to go, and what’s supposed to happen. It’s important to get aligned on what both your expectations are. Do you do gifts or do you not? Do you have any traditions you like to uphold? Any recurring annual events? Make sure you and your partner are clued up on what you’re expecting.
And when you’re in the thick of it, it’s always a good idea to check in with your partner and see how they’re doing. You never really know how someone truly feels until you ask. Everyone deals with stress differently and it’s not always easy to identify. When you do, your partner will appreciate it.
Now you know how to have a happy holiday season with your partner, there are lots more great ways to improve your relationship.
Photographer: Ian Schneider