The holidays are supposed to be a happy time. So why is it that the holidays tend to bring about more tension and distress with your partner?
Focused on a fantasy
We can get sucked into the fantasy that everything should be perfect. A lot of that comes from the pictures that movies and social media paints.
Stirs up memories, feelings
You may display feelings that come from your past experiences during this time of the year. Without realizing it, the holidays can bring to the surface feelings both good and bad.
Expectations and longings
Some people hold on to memories, which create expectations for the future. Maybe good memories mean you’ve set high expectations and you’re trying to recreate memories. If your memories are negative, you may try to turn things around. You may feel like it’s your responsibility to make things better for yourself and for your family. Either way, if you don’t succeed you’re left feeling disappointed.
More people, more needs
During the holidays, you might feel like you’re being pulled in many different directions, by different people. You want to please everyone, but your own needs are compromised along the way.
The gifts, gifts, gifts
Both gifting and receiving gifts can be stressful. This is especially true if giving and receiving gifts is your partner’s love language.
Familiar and familial roles
Another reason the holidays can be hard on relationships is the family dynamics that come out. Oftentimes, people fall back into the role they had growing up, and your partner sees you in a new way.
Maybe you and your partner come from different cultures and have different ways to celebrate the season. It can be tricky, trying to honor two different traditions.
Politics and other polarizing topics
More people means more opinions. Even if you’re not blending together different cultures, there are countless topics to disagree on, especially in today’s political climate.
So how can you alleviate this stress and make the holidays a time to strengthen your relationship?
1. Vocalize what kind of experience you want to have
What are your goals for the holidays? Let your partner know so that they can help to support you.
2. Talk to your partner about what it’s like to be with their family
Let them know if there are things that they could do to better support you. How can you both make the experience better for everyone?
3. Don’t forget each other
Make a conscious effort to incorporate time together into the holiday season. If the grandparents are staying with you, take advantage and get out (or stay in) for a date night.
4. Create a “couple tradition”
Do something meaningful to celebrate just the two of you, and repeat it annually. Whether it's going for a walk to see the lights or cooking a favorite food together, a couple tradition can enrich your connection.