The holidays aren’t always that merry. Dating during the holidays can add some strain to a relationship—especially if the couple doesn’t team up to address them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. Lots of great food, you see your friends and family more often, and the gifts are definitely a perk. Brandy and eggnog, anyone?
But it’s stressful, too. And particularly for relationships. This blog will address the big 5 challenges that couples are hit with during the holidays. None of these will outright kill off a relationship. But when they’re all taken together, it makes for a not-so-jolly season.
Holiday Challenge #1: Bloated Expectations
We all grew up seeing Christmas in a unique way. Traditions were created, some that we still cherish very much. But when a couple comes together and one wants a real tree and the other wants a fake one, it can cause a rift that only gets wider. It hurts when the person you love doesn’t cherish the things that you cherish.
And these expectations go far beyond whether or not to get a real tree. Some couples need to see EVERYONE they know, and demand their significant other come with them. Other couples have different ideas about how they want their children to view Christmas.
Solution: Talk. It’s the single most important thing you can do here. Talk about what you want for Christmas, and what he wants. Compromise and find a way you can make your own traditions while following the ones you had growing up.
Holiday Challenge #2: Making the Rounds with Family and Friends
Meeting your own family for the holidays be time consuming, stressful, and no fun at all. Mix a visit with your in-laws into that equation and you’ve got plenty more reasons to feel overwhelmed. Traveling during the holidays sucks. But for some people, it’s the only time of the year they see family. No option exists to not go.
And on top of that, you have Christmas party after Christmas party. You need to put in face time with your significant other’s friends. All taken together this can be immensely stressful for both parties.
Solution: If you both need to fly to meet family, try an every-other-year approach. You see his in 2015, he sees yours in 2016. This may mean you’ll have to see your family at a different time during the year, but it can instantly eliminate stress if things are getting out of hand. That, and cut back on your party schedule if it’s something you both want.
Holiday Challenge #3: Expenses, Expenses and More Expenses
Traveling expenses, party expenses and gift expenses, on TOP of what you normally have to deal with. Guys especially will stress out about all the money they’re spending. Seriously, you don’t need to hit credit limits and deplete savings accounts every time you hear jingle bells. That is not what the season is all about.
Solution: Draw a line in the sand. Map out how much you need for travel and put it aside. Agree on a set amount of money you’ll both spend on gifts (for EVERYONE you know) and stick to it. Again, put it aside. Lastly, look for ways to cut back on holiday party spending. If you have to buy the plastic bottom shelf whisky and forgo the top shelf stuff, then do it. Will it kill your guests? Put it into a decanter. Even crappy alcohol tastes better from a decanter (even a cheap decanter.)
Holiday Challenge #4: Not Enough Time
It’s inevitable: you’re going to run out of time…for everything. There are too many parties, too much stuff to buy, traffic is too slow, and lines are too long. Pretty soon couples are blowing up at each other over the smallest thing. They’re stressed and sick of each other.
Solution: shop online if you’re not already. Don’t even leave the house if you don’t have to. Divvy up the holiday chores, both of you take a Tuesday off, and get it all done at 10:00 A.M. while all the suckers are at work. Proper planning goes a LONG way here.
Holiday Challenge #5: Gifts
I discuss the challenge of gifts in last week’s blog here. It was written with new couples in mind, but the rules apply just as much for new couples as it does for established ones.
Solution: Keep the price reasonable, make the gift something simple, and don’t overthink it. Talk to your significant other and figure out a gift plan, for each other and for everyone else you know.
You know the biggest challenges, and you understand some ways you can deal with them. If I had any one solid piece of advice to give you, it would be to talk about all five of these trouble areas one by one. Find out what the other person wants, and then work out a middle ground.
Lastly, take some time off! We get so busy during this season that we forget to relax, which is what a holiday should be all about.