The holidays can be notoriously stressful. Couples with busy lives have to juggle multiple and often-conflicting obligations.

There are presents to buy, decorations to hang, and events to attend or prepare for.  It’s supposed to be fun, but many people can’t wait for it to be over.

Needless to say,  our relationships can take a hit. We may disagree on which family to see or how to spend our time/money. We lose our mindful communication, to put it nicely.

But holiday stress is a choice and does not have to affect our relationships.

I decided a few years ago that I was no longer going to act out of obligation, pressure, or commercialism.

Does this mean I don’t celebrate or partake in festivities? Not at all.  I just only do what both my husband I agree is important and let the rest go.

This may sound impossible, but I believe everyone can find their own balance.

If this is something you are struggling with, let me share with you the top 5 ways you can protect your relationship from holiday stress and create positive traditions for your loved ones.

Holiday Stress: 5 Steps to Protect Your Relationship

These are really simple but not always easy. Take the time to sit down and make a commitment to keep your relationship a priority.

Emphasize what you WANT for the holidays–not what you don’t want. Be honest about your dislikes and fears, but try to put things in terms of your ideal. What do you envision for you and your family?

Create a shared vision. After sharing your individual wishes, see where your visions overlap. What can you both agree on?  Create a plan from there.  Are there things you can let go of? Let them go without resentment as a conscious choice for peace.

Eliminate criticism. If you are new at this, try it for just one week and see what happens. This doesn’t mean you don’t express your feelings or wishes, it just means you avoid “You Statements,” generalizations, or character assassinations. (For more on this click here.)

Decide to let go of attachment to any particular outcome. Enjoy the  “input,” or the process. Love the moments, appreciate what is real. Are you arguing about how to hang the lights? Laugh about it. Appreciate how much your partner cares about the lights. This will soften conflict instantly.

Nurture each other. Does your partner need a night out with friends? Do they want a foot massage? Think deeply about what helps your partner thrive in times of stress (which may be different from what you need).  Not sure? Ask.

Stay connected to your family and friends. Yes I know lunch may be out of the question, but even just a phone call or email can help you feel supported. Feeling part of a wider community–especially as you navigate the minutiae of your life–is key to balance.

The holidays are to be enjoyed! You deserve it.  This year, choose a peaceful and stress-free holiday for you and your partner 🙂

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything you have tried in the past that really works? Please share below …

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