Whether your relationship is brand-spanking-new or so comfortable it’s practically a Snuggie, the holidays can be a trying time for all. When you think about it, the holidays can contain most of the major relationship stressors in one fell swoop: family, money, travel… and that’s just the most common scenarios.
“The most wonderful time of the year,” can, in fact, be the most stressful. So how do we get your relationship through unscathed? Hopefully these tips and tricks will help, regardless of the age of your relationship.
Learn to Share
This one’s a problem I hear particularly from those who are college-age, traveling home for winter break, but even in the “adult world” we often travel “home” for the holidays.
For many, the winter break or holiday season is one of the only times of the year when they get to see the rest of their loved ones – family, friends who might live elsewhere, etc. It’s a period of only a few weeks, and it’s expected that a year’s worth of bonding will occur.
It’s hard to give the same level of attention to a boyfriend or girlfriend when you’re being pulled in a thousand different directions, and nothing crashes a holiday high faster than knowing your significant other is miffed. If you know your other half is going to have a lot of stress and people to pay attention to, try giving them some space, and take the time to hang out with your own friends and family (It’s also a great time to do some sneaky present shopping that won’t be easily detected).
Pick and Choose
So you come from one background, one set of traditions or even religion, and your significant other comes from another. You don’t understand why she thinks a fruitcake works best as a doorstop, and she doesn’t understand why you would open all your presents on Christmas Eve. Ah, the holidays – a time of culture clash.
Well, for those who are getting testy instead of jolly, try bearing two things in mind:
No tradition exists in a vacuum; there’s no one right way. Take Christmas, for example, a mishmash of traditions from various cultures and even religions. Instead of rolling your eyes at some “silly” holiday routine, take this as an insight into your significant other’s life. It can be a learning experience, and you might even pick up something fun and new that you incorporate yourself (like the Doctor Who Christmas special).
Start your own traditions. Who says you have to do everything exactly like your parents? You’re adults now; you choose what stays and goes for the future. Not only do you get to pick and choose from what you were raised with, you get to think of brand-new stuff unique to your relationship. Maybe the new tradition is to go out to dinner at a Thai place. Maybe it’s to be non-traditional and mix it up every year; whatever feels right for you.
It’s OK to Be Yourselves
So maybe you’re practically an honorary Christmas elf, and she just doesn’t get the importance of the tree and the lights. Maybe he likes to do the holiday party circuit, and you get hives when you think about being in crowds.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be yourselves, even when you don’t exactly line up perfectly. After all, if they love you the other eleven months out of the year, it shouldn’t break their heart when you don’t have an opinion on house lights (LED? Icicle?). And if you’re one pulling out the decorations the day after Halloween, remember that you can explode your holiday glory all over the place and if they’re not pressured to do the same, they might just have a good time watching you.
So there you have it! Hopefully by following some of these tips, and even just being aware that the holidays can be stressful, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Do you have any additional tips to share? We’re all in this together, after all!