Delaware Marriage Therapy: Tips for Handling Holiday Relationship Stress


The stressful holiday season can put a strain on all your relationships—familial and romantic.

But couples have added stresses. Between travelling long distances, visiting each other’s families, wading through crowded shopping malls, and the like, there’s a lot of opportunity for things to get heated between you and your partner.

Luckily, there a number of ways that you can effectively diffuse the tension of the holiday, helping you make it to the New Year with your spirt, sanity, and relationship intact. Here a few ways for you and your partner to get the most out of the holidays while keeping a lid on the seasonal stress.

Create a Game Plan

It’s a good idea to go over a game plan with your spouse or partner before the holidays begin. Bring up any concerns or obligations that you have for the impending holidays, and flesh out a game plan for tackling the bigger challenges you face this year.

The advantage of planning ahead is two-fold. First, you will be better prepared in general for the big holiday monsters like family visits and travel. Second, bringing up major concerns beforehand helps start a working dialogue between you and your partner—making the two of you better able to communicate whenever unexpected sources of tension occur.

Take a Non-Holiday Break

Holidays, by the very definition of the word, are supposed to be a break from work – yet they can be the most stressful time of the year.

So take a vacation from your vacation, and spend some time with your partner doing non-holiday activities. When you focus too much on impending travel, shopping, dinners, and the like, you’re liable to lose the perspective that helps you stay sane during the holidays.

A non-holiday date can provide a welcome relief from the rushing around of the season, and allow the two of you to spend some time focusing on your relationship. Do something wholly unrelated to the holiday—like going to a museum or a movie. Take some time to relax and avoid talking about all the things on your to-do list.

Remember What Is Important

Of course, the people closest to us are often the best at getting on our last nerve. This fact is rarely ever as apparent as during the stressful holiday season.

But before you allow anger to bubble over into something you’ll regret, remember to be grateful that you have someone to spend the holidays with—even if he or she is driving you a little crazy.

During the holiday season, it’s important to keep perspective on what actually matters most. Though it can be stressful to spend time with in-laws, or wade through the throngs of black holiday shoppers, remember why you do it.

For example, visiting in-laws may be stressful—but to your partner, it may be the only time he or she will get to spend with family all year. Shopping might be tense, but keep in mind the goal is to remind the people you love how much you care about them.

If you and your partner find yourselves at wit’s end with each other, don’t despair – Delaware marriage therapy can help by providing you with the tools you need to get back on track.


Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803