The holidays are quickly approaching. That means that your relatives are also on their way to visit. As much as we all enjoy being around loved ones, it’s no secret that this can be stressful—and if your relationship is already under tension of its own, this is a recipe for disaster. Before allowing the holiday cheer to devolve into bitterness, take heed of these tips.
1. Use a Code Word
When your partner’s family is visiting, lifestyle differences between you two will be on full display. Many of their habits, preferences, and choices are grounded in their upbringing. So, if certain problematic behaviors begin to reappear, it is important NOT to publicly dispute them. In fact, use a code word to secretly tell your partner that you two need to speak in another room so that you can mediate the problem privately. Sending a quick text is another option to let your partner know that it’s time to talk without making a public spectacle out of it.
2. Splitting Time Between Families
Both of your families will want to see you for the holidays—that’s a fact! So, how do you split time? The truth is, every couple’s situation will be different. For some, it will be easy because only one of their families lives in the vicinity. For others, it will be more difficult because both have family that want to host you for the holidays. However, what’s important is to speak honestly about what you two want to do, agree upon a plan, and then stand united in it. Use this potential obstacle as an opportunity to grow closer through conflict resolution!
3. Expect Friction
Like we’ve already discussed, as wonderful as the holidays are and as much as we appreciate spending time with family, it can be a stressful time of year that takes its toll on relationships. Going in with the mindset that problems may arise can help you respond thoughtfully and deliberately, instead of reacting in a way that can further damage the dynamic between you and your partner. Relationships are not stagnant—yesterday’s solutions can easily become today’s problems, but that’s okay! Love is a process that is worth the work you put in. So, instead of dreading the seemingly inevitable tension between you and your partner, use the holidays as a way to find out what works and what doesn’t. That way, you both can commit yourselves to improving, standing firmly together upon this newfound knowledge.
If after the holidays, you and your significant other are looking for a professional therapist that is specifically trained to mediate between partners, Susan Block can help. She specializes in couples counseling so that you two can reach your fullest potential—together. Visit her website SusanBlockLmft.com today to learn more.