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married couple holding handsThe holidays are a joyous time to spend with family and loved ones. And for married couples, the yuletide season can yield double the fun – or double the stress. Whether this is your first holiday together or you’re seasoned pros, every couple can succumb to the pressures associated with this time of year. According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, increases in divorce are common upon returning back from winter vacations. The main contributing factor during this “emotionally charged” holiday is the stress of trying to live up to perceived expectations.

Throughout the year, two people together can offer each other compassion, love and true partnership. However, when the holidays come around, couples can fall into a whirlwind of stress-induced decoupling; at which point marriage counseling is imperative. With all of the family obligations that can extend beyond immediate family and into extended family and friends, it’s important to take a moment for yourselves and be cautious not to allow your nerves from reaching their boiling points.

Family Obligations

Any couple is sure to experience family-induced stress during the holidays. It’s helpful to have a discussion with your partner to determine what would make the holidays most optimal for each of you. Sometimes we skip this important step of setting the right expectations and adequately preparing for the nuances of each other’s family celebrations and get-togethers.

When discussing the upcoming holidays, ensure you both set proper boundaries whenever possible and stick to the agreed plan. Families can have a way of inflicting guilt towards others when they don’t conform to familiar traditions. As a strong couple there is a responsibility to respect your partner’s wishes and be sensitive to what they’re comfortable with.

Hosting Friends and Family

The stress of hosting others during the holidays can be overwhelming for a couple – especially if you’re accommodating your in-laws. Deciding how long you’re each willing to open your home to guests and what types of events and budgetary limits you both feel comfortable with is an important step. Of course plans have a tendency of getting derailed and you both have to be willing to roll with unexpected happenings and be willing to compromise to save the peace.

Another good tip to keep in mind in order to keep a happy marriage during the holidays is for couples to spend time together. Being in a relationship is hard work and making sure to carve out time for yourselves to be alone together will help you stay more connected as well as ensure that there is always time to talk about issues that arise.

Holiday Blues

Seasonal affective disorder, a.k.a. seasonal depression affects millions of people and is concentrated during the holidays. There are many contributing factors such as lack of sunlight effecting circadian rhythm and serotonin and melatonin levels from the change in season. In addition to this disorder, increased intake of alcohol and other bad habits that people partake in during the holidays can amplify feelings of sadness and withdrawal. Seeking treatment for depression can mean the difference between a healthy marriage and a failed one.

Gift Giving

Gifts are thoughtful gestures of love and affection, but, paired with the stress of the holidays this opportunity can induce unnecessary anxiety. For families, there may be financial implications that can stifle the joy of gift-giving. It’s predicted that on average consumers will spend $906 U.S. dollars in 2017 on Christmas gifts. If gifts are important for you and your spouse, an easy way to avoid disappointment and stay within budget is to set a price limit so that your gifts will be of equal value.

Many websites allow consumers to build “wish lists” that can be shared and sometimes this is the best way to ensure pure happiness during the gift exchange. Other ways to ensure happiness is to invest in a larger ticket item such as furniture, a luxurious splurge, or a vacation for the whole family. Whatever option best suits your relationship, make sure both parties have equal input in making the decision.

In the spirit of the holidays, it’s important to remember what’s most important and appreciate your blessings. Sharing in this philosophy and communicating with each other are keys to any successful marriage. Showing respect for each other’s boundaries and establishing a plan ahead of time are too often overlooked during the holidays with everything else that’s going on. It’s better not to assume anything and discuss everything whenever possible with your mate. Everyone has their own hopes and expectations during the holidays, and if they are well planned out, you can accomplish those goals and anticipate future celebrations together that are filled with love and laughter for several years to come.

Categories: Blog, Relationships

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