6 Tips For Surviving The Holidays As A Couple

by Teresa Newsome

The holidays fill me with joy and joyness. But they also fill me with anxiety, guilt, and sadness. Did I get the right gifts? How are things going to be the same since my beloved aunt passed away? Will I make it through the holidays without killing my partner?

OK, that last one is bit of an exaggeration, but between tighter budgets, travel, shopping (which means traffic and crowds), impromptu family reunions, high school friends, and new in-law traditions, I know I'm going to be left with very little emotional energy and patience for my sweet wife.

I'm not alone. The holidays are tough for everyone, even if the only stress you face is good stress. It's a peak time for depression and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's definitely a time when you should lean on your partner rather than snap at him or her over chores, bad jokes or annoying family members.

No couple is perfect and squabbles might just be a part of your holiday reality, but if you take some time to slow down and acknowledge your true feelings, you'll be able to see that you really don't have a genuine beef with your love and you'll be able to shake off some stress and replace it with some holiday magic. And avoid spending the holidays in jail on a murder wrap.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

You won't feel joy every single moment of every single day. And if you do end up taking some of your frustrations out on your partner, that doesn't mean you've ruined the whole holiday. Unreasonable pressure to be happy is a big no-no, according to Linda Walter, LCSW, in an article for Psychology Today. It just sets you up for disappointment.

2. Don't Think About Perfectionism

You don't have to buy everyone gifts. You don't have to have the perfect decor. Unless you're a brain surgeon or bridge engineer, you do not need to do anything with near-perfect precision, according to Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today, who is making the point that expecting perfection is just unreasonable. Your partner won't be perfect and you won't be perfect. Accept that fact early on to ease your stress.

3.Compromise On Family Stuff

You can't be in two places at once. This makes for the perfect storm of holiday arguments with your partner. There's no easy way to solve this dilemma, and someone's mom is going to be sad, but there are fair solutions. First, you need to determine which traditions are most important to each of you, according to Sharon Naylor in an article for BridalGuide. Then just have a frank discussion with both of your families about what you can and can't do.

4. Tag Team On A Budget

Money is one of the most divisive issues between couples, and one of the most difficult to solve, according to Andrea Coombes in an article for the Wall Street Journal. To keep the money fights to a minimum, make a budget and stick to it. Create a list of what gifts you plan to buy and for whom. Don't over-extend yourself or you'll just be asking for more fights down the road.

5. Create Ground Rules

You have to be willing to give and take in order to enjoy a reduced-stress holiday. If you identify the scenarios ahead of time that are likely to create strife, you can create a plan and some ground rules. For example, no pointless arguing with your partner's incredibly conservative uncle in order to keep the peace (just this once) or no staying at any gathering for more than four hours for your introverted, socially anxious spouse. You have to pick your battles so everyone has an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

6. Choose To Be Kind

Remember that you're together over the holidays because you love each other, and that's a beautiful thing. When you feel yourself getting irritated with your partner, instead of yelling or picking a fight, choose kindness and forgiveness. You have to consider the long-term consequences of what comes out of your mouth and what's at stake if your partner reacts in a similar way, according to Dave Singleton in an article for dating site Match. In other words, let the small stuff go and react with love.

When in doubt: Communicate, communicate, communicate. A simple chat can be the difference between a moment of irritation and a ruined evening.

Images: Giphy (6); Pexels