Holiday season is full of fantastic things (IMHO) – the lights, the decadent food, and cozy nights by the fire. The air of romance is thick this time of year.
Before you crack open that bottle of champagne, however, we have to talk.
Relationships and holidays aren’t necessarily like a hand and glove, fitting together perfectly (OJ aside); in fact, they can be more like oil and water. They can make us uncomfortable, stressed out, and can even tear some couples apart. That’s why we all need a few relationship tips for surviving the holidays.
Here’s the truth: holiday expectations run high.
We get nervous about spending time with extended family. We worry about what to get our significant others, or whether or not we’ll get invited to our new boyfriend’s work holiday party.
And OMG, what if you just started dating – do you even buy a present? Do you make any kind of demands?
Let’s be clear – we all have different traditions and ideas of how the holidays should be, and that is very true in a relationship.
Instead of dreading the holidays, wondering if you and your SO will agree on your respective holiday plans, let’s take a different approach. There’s no need to fester in anxiety over your relationship status, or plan a whirlwind of events that leave you feeling disappointed, when you can step back and check in with your partner.
Here are some tips for surviving the holidays:
Talk about your expectations.
Not everyone places the same amount of importance on the holiday season, or has the same ideas of how to celebrate (or not celebrate at all). This is especially true in romantic relationships. Instead of ignoring potential disconnects and getting hurt as a result, now is a good time to communicate and come up with some compromises. If decking the house with tons of Christmas lights and baking gingerbread is important to you, let your partner know. Maybe your partner doesn’t celebrate for religious reasons, and is hoping you’ll sit this season out, too. If you want to include your family and friends in holiday activities, bring it up. If there’s something that drives you crazy about the holidays, let your SO know. The first step is getting your challenges and desires out in the open.
Question your fears.
Are you afraid of introducing your SO to your work buddies, or to your own family? Do you think your family will be upset if you decide to go on vacation with your SO instead of following tradition? Think about the fear behind the decisions you are making, and if it’s based in fact or assumption. If you are uncertain about your SO’s behavior, there might be other issues in the relationship that need addressing. If you and your partner want to go away, why do you feel you would be letting people down? See what thoughts are behind your fears.
Focus on what you both want.
The way to come together is to find common ground. Do you both enjoy doing something of service, like volunteering, or do you prefer getting each other a nice gift? Do you enjoy cooking together, or watching movies and eating popcorn by the fire? There’s more to holiday season than your differences. When you and your partner talk about your expectations and fears, follow it up with what you DO want. There are things you enjoy doing together, right? There’s no reason the holiday season can’t include your own new traditions. Find ways you can enjoy this time together, and focus on those.