Along with the fun and excitement of the winter season comes with a notorious amount of holiday stress. It can come from the inevitable interaction with less than liked relatives. It can result from financial troubles over rising heating bills and affording gifts and throwing parties. It can come from the overwhelming sense that the holidays have to be “perfect.” Chances are you’ll find yourself at the short end of your fuse and wondering how to make a relationship last through the holidays. Here are 5 effective tips for overcoming holiday stress and keep your marriage strong.
1. Set a budget. Holiday stress often comes from the strain it puts on our wallets. Avoid this by making a realistic budget for the season and sticking to it.Try doing a “secret Santa” arrangement in your family (for Christmas or Hanukah) to limit the number and price of gifts you give. Don’t buy new wrapping paper and bows—which is expensive and bad for the environment—instead, recycle pretty wrapping and boxes from the past year and improvise with cloth, magazines, and newspaper. By trimming off the fat you’ll find what really makes the holidays really special.
2. Muster the troops. Coming together as a family and delegating work for the holidays will reduce stress and increase your bond. Resist the temptation to “do it all.”The children can be given simple tasks such as helping in the kitchen, decorating, or cleaning up. Play to each of your strengths and abilities. Making sure each person has their role set clearly beforehand will make them more likely to follow through.
3. Get some “us time.” Stay connected to your spouse by setting a goal to show positive intimacy every day. Give him a hug for “no reason” multiple times a day. Hold hands or give her a massage. Scientific marriage help books have shown physical touch releases stress reducing hormones. Plus, it shows you are there for each other. Also, be sure to take an adults-only date night. Go skating or take a walk to look at holiday lights. Do something that gets you alone and enjoying each other’s company.
4. Deflect confrontation. This one’s tricky, especially when we’re stressed out and have a couple of glasses of spiked eggnog in us. The best option for a nosy or confrontational guest who gets on your back is to face the problem directly and politely. Try saying, “I can see how you feel that way…at the same time, lets just enjoy the party and set that conversation aside.” Check out PO2’s online marriage counseling resources sections “yes…and…” and “anger ceilings” to learn how to agree to disagree.
5. Take a break—a complete break! When you feel worn down, get out of the house and do something simple that doesn’t have anything to do with chores. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Don’t try to cram something useful into the time like walking the dog or picking up some groceries. Use this moment to clear your mind, admire the houses on your block and their decorations, or the beautiful nature around you.