How to Help Your Relationship Thrive During the Holiday Season

The holidays are here! But while that can be exciting for all kinds of reasons, for many of us this is also the busiest, most stressful time of year.

How can you keep the holidays from adding stress and tension to your relationship? Beating holiday stress may not be completely possible, but there are lots of things you and your partner can do to reduce it.

Beating Holiday Stress and Focusing on Your Partner

“Survival” may seem dramatic – but so are the holidays. Everything is heightened, and it can feel like each little thing you get right – or wrong – is incredibly important. So much to do! So many people depending on you!

So take a deep breath and read on to keep your relationship strong throughout the season:

Just Say No. This may be the most important advice you get this year for beating holiday stress. So much of that “overwhelm” feeling comes from trying to do too much and bending over backward to make other people happy. But you are not responsible for everyone’s happiness, and you do not have to do everything. Decide ahead of time what you’re comfortable taking on, then tell people “no” if they try to add things on top of that.

Does a Tradition “Spark Joy”? Yep, Marie Kondo works for traditions, too. Sometimes, things that worked to bring you together in the past can become divisive, frustrating, and stressful as people – and the world – grow and change. If something seems like more trouble than it’s worth, don’t do it anymore.

Forget about the “Joneses.” It’s all too easy to see what others are doing on social media – or just in your own neighborhood – and feel jealous or competitive. But you have to let it go and remember what the season’s really about: connecting with the people you love. Bonus: tuning out all that other noise will help you do that!

Have a Team Mentality. You and your partner are a unit. A lot of beating holiday stress is about talking to each other, making a plan, and refusing to let others set you against each other. Just as important: help each other out. When you work together, you can make things easier for both of you.

Talk It Out – and Keep Talking. Part of this is making a plan, getting on the same page, and sticking to it – including setting aside “relationship time” (as in actually scheduling it!) Part of it is continuing to talk and keep each other in the loop when these best laid plans inevitably hit speed bumps.

If you find that you both need a little extra support during the holidays, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a professional counselor. They can help you sort out those touchy family issues. And it’s at least one hour per week scheduled to pay attention to your relationship. 

Hopefully, after reading this, you’re feeling a bit more ready. Remember, holiday seasons come and go. The most important part is how you feel about each other afterward. Never lose sight of that, and you’ll have a happy home all year round. 

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