The holiday season is an emotional one. Everyone from Charlie Brown to George Bailey to Clark Griswold have dealt with the holiday season and all the nervous excitement that accompanies it. Spending time with family is a joyous occasion, and everyone likes giving and receiving presents, but there are many challenges that also come around this time of year. It is not always easy to stay in the moment and stay happy. Here’s a few quick tips to help your relationship get through the holidays.
It’s All About Giving
Give yourself over to the season. Go wherever you must. Do whatever you must do. Wear cheesy sweaters. The best way to stay positive among the chaos is to embrace it. You don’t have control over the crowds at the mall, or that guy in front of the grocery store who thinks ringing a bell will make you give him money… you do have control over your attitude and actions. Patience is the key. Realize that it’s not about you right now. Be serene, relax, and take things as they come. The sparkle in your loved one’s eyes when they open that thoughtful gift will make it all worthwhile. Find a way to keep it fun in the meantime. Give freely of yourself. Give smiles. Give joy. Give your patience and time to everyone you meet. Give more of it to your loved ones. Play Fairytale of New York, put on a Santa Hat and laugh a holly, jolly laugh until January.
Make Time Special
It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in materialism, entertaining, and cooking. You and your partner must make time for each other. Spend an extra 10 minutes in bed cuddling before greeting your house guests with breakfast and coffee. It’s a magical time, and that’s a great excuse to find the magic in your relationship. You’ll get through this, and that Christmas spirit will help. Take a moment during activities to show your appreciation for each other. It could be a wink or a hug, but it needs to be a connection that says “we got this.” My wife and I were baking cookies with her Mom. It only took a second for me to give my wife a smile and then I proceeded with shaping a sugar cookie into Pac Man. It’s a shared moment. You can (and will) do other things, but those moments keep you connected. There may not be time to get frisky, but that smile can keep you going through the holiday season.
Keep Conversations Light
The holidays are a time for reflecting on the past year, catching up with people you don’t see often, and sharing moments with those who mean the most to you. Don’t mess it up by discussing politics or religion. There are more important things to worry about in your own lives, and every family has different ends of the political spectrum. Though it can be fun to pit the liberals against the conservatives, keep the Ferguson conversations away from the dinner table. The last thing you want to do is ostracize someone who you care about and don’t get to see very often. Keep it light and talk about things that don’t get people worked up. Once everyone has had a few drinks you can start the serious debates about racial tension, immigration and police training. By that time nobody will remember if they were offended anyhow.
Dwell on Positives
It’s too easy to dwell on the negatives. Everything is expensive. Children are loud. Crowds are annoying. You must try to look for the positives amidst all of the noise. The highest rates of suicide take place during the holiday season. We will never know why, but I have a feeling it’s because of expectations. We are all expected to have holiday cheer (my friend Jarred uses Holiday Cheer to wash his clothes during the holidays… if he runs out he uses Yule Tide). Sometimes the holidays remind us that we are alone, sad, or missing someone we love. It’s important not to get swept away in these depressing thoughts. Focus your mind on the good things in your life. The people who are around you are happy to be there. Enjoy yourself and live in the present. That’s the best gift you can give yourself and everyone around you.
You’re not communicating with your partner as often when there are more people around. The things you say in front of others are very important. Make your partner feel good by supporting their statements in conversation. Make an effort to make your partner look good. It will make them feel good. Stay away from disagreement or contradictory remarks. A strong relationship is one where partners do not disparage each other, especially when in a crowd. The moments you share mean more when there are fewer of them, and the holiday season means there will be fewer of them. Do your best to be a calming and helpful presence in those moments.
There you have it. Be holly, jolly, merry and joyful, and your partner will be thankful. There’s nothing better than the sigh of relief the day after Christmas. Its a feeling that can last… until your next credit card statement!