The holidays are supposed to be joyful, bringing couples closer together. In reality, many couples become stressed or depressed during the holidays. Unresolved issues often carry into the new year, which is why January through March have the highest number of divorces. Due to Harvey, this year has been especially trying on relationships, leaving couples feeling stressed and overwhelmed emotionally and financially. However, having an action plan can help calm the stress of the holidays and protect your relationship. Here’s some items to add to your action plan:
Lower your expectations with gift giving and money spent during the holidays. The pressure many people feel to give gifts of equal value puts many couples in financial debt, and this burden is usually felt in the New Year. This year, scale back and take time to write a special note instead. Tell the person what they mean to you instead of purchasing something you can’t afford.
Calm down. The holidays can feel exciting, but that excitement can cause stress with sleepless nights and feeling irritable during the day. Stay consistent with your current routine and carve out much needed “me time.” Ten minutes alone to slow down and breathe is enough to change your perspective.
Cut back on alcohol. Festivities are often celebrated with alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant to your nervous system. If you drink too much on a regular basis, you’ll begin feeling more lethargic, more depressed, and more irritable; all of these add to stress.
Talk to your partner about what is allowed before company comes to visit. For couples who lost their home or suffered major damage after the storm, having work crews and home renovations underfoot is extremely stressful, especially if you are entertaining guests. Talk to your partner in private about how long you’ll allow company to stay and things you want kept confidential between you two. Each person is different with privacy; understanding and respecting your partner’s boundaries helps you feel safe with each other.
Limit parties without guilt. You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited to. Having boundaries and knowing when to give yourself permission to stay home indicates a healthy self-esteem. Parties are for socializing and having fun. If you’re too tired and over-socialized, advocate for your sanity and stay home.
Keep date nights for the two of you. Holidays are all about sharing, but giving so much to others that you have nothing left for your partner leads to resentment. Schedule time alone with your partner, and don’t allow anyone else’s schedule to interfere.
Protecting your relationship and allowing the holidays to add joy instead of stress is about prioritizing and celebrating the love and appreciation you feel together. Remember the love you two share is the greatest gift of all.