Holiday Stress & Your Relationships
The holidays are just around the corner! Are you too stressed for love and connection?
Halloween is behind us and just as the kids are winding down from their sugar high, you’re anticipating and maybe even dreading the start of the holiday season. Most of us tend to view the holidays (Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s, Kwanza, Diwali) as THE time of year for connection, bonding, love, and making cozy memories with loved ones, family and friends. Ironically however, holiday stress and busyness often lead to feelings of discontent, disconnect (especially from one’s partner), distress, and maybe even anxiety.
We put a great deal of pressure on ourselves and others to be the “perfect” partner, parent, child, friend, etc. during this time of the year, anticipating that the warm glow of the holidays will overshadow or at least put “on hold” disruption and conflict. How on earth, you wonder, will you get through all that you have to do in preparation for the holidays and not lose your mind and your relationship?! Especially with that person in your life that you count on for love, support, caring, a safe haven, and help, your intimate partner…
Here are a few ideas that can make a difference:
Leave Some Room for Imperfection
The tree, the decorations, the cookies and gifts don’t all have to be perfect and ready by a “drop-dead” due date; remember, the process of decorating, baking those cookies, putting that holiday card or letter together is ultimately going to provide a place to connect and enjoy each other’s camaraderie and support, and to build those “cozy memories.” Let that process emerge and evolve, and take time to just be in it with your partner. Slowing things down and letting go of perfection for yourself and your partner can be a way to engage differently. Take some time to process with yourself and your partner, the priorities for the holidays; are you on the same page? Do you want the same things for this time of year? Do some of the same things matter to you both?
Give Each Other Some Space and Empathy
Both of you are dealing with managing multiple responsibilities in addition to the holidays: work still goes on, kids still need attention, family relations continue, and your life doesn’t just come to a stop during at this time of year. Try not to make your partner “the enemy;” he or she is doing the best that they can as well and you both will function and problem-solve better if you can see yourself as being on the “same team” rather than as adversaries.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Reflect on what are reasonable expectations for the holidays based on what your life is like. Share these considerations and reflections with your partner and dialogue about what really seems to make sense or not with all that you both are juggling. Is it reasonable to expect that there won’t be any arguments or conflicts during this time? Or is it reasonable to expect that somehow a somewhat “lukewarm” connection with your partner will blossom magically over the holidays into a passionate rekindling of romance between you? Difficult as these conversations may seem, remaining open to the possibility that you and your partner could talk about them, could lead to more honest, authentic and warm connections in the long run.
Ultimately, we all want our expectations of love, caring, connection, support, and safety in our intimate relationships to be something that exists day in and day out, throughout the year and not just during the holidays. We all want love and connection to be 365/24/7, but the holidays can take their toll on this; nurture each other, slow things down, leave the lines of communication and you might just be able to have your holiday fruitcake and eat it too!!