How Your Holiday Stress May Affect Your Loved Ones
You and your spouse may also argue about whose traditions to follow, how much money to spend on gifts, or other factors that about the holidays. Glaser says that the key to keeping your marriage healthy through the holidays is being able to negotiate and compromise with your partner. If you’re not willing to spend time with your spouse’s family or take part in their traditions, you shouldn’t expect your spouse to be too happy when attending your family’s holiday parties.
Preventing Marital Troubles During the Holidays
- Sit down with your spouse to plan out your schedule for the holiday season. Agree on which events to attend together and if new commitments arise, be quick to address them.
- Arguing about money is common for couples during the holidays, so create a budget for holiday shopping to prevent debt and to keep expectations realistic.
- Choose fun activities and experiences instead of buying gifts. Instead of trying to figure out what your spouse wants for Christmas, suggest going on a weekend getaway or an extravagant date night to create lasting memories.
- Start new traditions of your own. Whether it’s watching Christmas movies with your children on Christmas Eve or decorating the house together, be sure to spend some time with just your spouse and children.
- Try taking a marriage enrichment class or couples therapy if you’re feeling stressed out. Winter can often worsen symptoms of depression or SAD, so be aware of this if your spouse struggles with one of these disorders. If you think you might be suffering with undiagnosed depression, take time for yourself to visit a doctor and find out your treatment options.
Family Conflicts and Your Marriage
- John Livesay, a notable keynote speaker, suggests talking to your spouse before events to agree on how to answer intrusive questions from relatives. Livesay adds that, “Getting defensive is not the answer. Assume they are coming from a good place - and remember, different generations have different expectations about one's life and career.”
- Establish healthy boundaries and remember that it’s OK to say “no.”
- Go in to family events with realistic expectations and a sense of humor. Try your best to navigate conversations away from touchy topics like politics, and instead bring up positive memories you have with your family.
- Resist the temptation to over-indulge with food or alcohol. Keeping yourself physically healthy will allow you to most effectively manage stress.
- During family get-togethers where you or your spouse may be more anxious or overwhelmed, relationship therapist Marissa Nelson says, “Commit to being each other’s emotional support systems during this time.” Check in with each other once in a while and make sure neither of you are feeling left out or uncomfortable.