Overwhelming Joy

Overwhelming JoySome people seem to take the holidays in stride. They are always smiling and unfazed by the hustle and bustle that comes with the festivities. Then there’s the rest of us. We get stuck in elbow-to-elbow check out lines at the store, get anxious about family dinners, and feel obligated to go to friend’s parties.  This can be a really stressful time for relationships. With a little planning and communication up front, you and your partner can enjoy the holidays and even look forward to the activities!

Take small risks. Leave the big ones for later.

If your relationship is newly evolving, put up a few decorations together, go out to a couple of parties but don’t overdo it. Don’t schedule something every night for the month. And don’t throw big parties at your house.  Experience a little bit of the holidays together, but keep it light. Too much holiday cheer can be very stressful on the relationship.  A little bit can go a long ways.

When it comes to the relatives, use your good judgement. The holidays are typically a time for families to enjoy their time together and your partner’s family will want to share time with you.  If it at all feels awkward, decline the invitation. Or suggest an alternative that puts you all together for just a couple of hours. 

This may not be time to meet the partner’s parents for the first time.  The holiday energy is different than other times of the year and family get-togethers can be seen as “sacred” events. This is not a time for mistakes. You won’t want to labeled as “that girlfriend that got drunk, passed out and knocked over the Christmas tree!”

Talk with your partner about boundaries and set some limits.

Have a discussion with your love interest about how much you will spend on gifts for each other, what parties you’ll go to together and what other festivities you would like to do together.  Once this is set, don’t compromise.  You may be tempted to buy that more expensive gift, or accept the offer of one more party invitation from a friend.  You both should participate in the discussion of how much is enough and stick to that. That is your threshold and if you go over that, be ready for conflict.

Get some sense of the limits of your stress and plan around that. If you can only be in a shopping mall for 30 minutes before you feel claustrophobic and a little panicky, then plan around that. Determine at what point in the festivities they stop being fun for you and stop well before that. A pleasant evening can turn into a disaster if you push yourself beyond your limits.

Plan plenty of downtime. Being alone can be refreshing.

Make sure you and your partner plan plenty of time for yourselves to be alone together around the holidays. Being around friends and family a lot during this time can create some tension.  Going out with other people or having others over can be a lot of fun. But too much deprives you and your partner of being a couple and enjoying the holidays together.  Make sure you plan time to cuddle up on the couch with popcorn and a couple of movies with your partner!

The holidays often bring interesting energy into a relationship. To make sure this is an healthy time for you and your partner, find a balance between what you do with others, how much money you spend, and how your time is divided between activities. Make time for being just with your partner and share the festive energy together!

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