The holiday season is all about connecting with the relationships that matter most. From coworkers to family and friends, you always end up in some environment with the expectation to connect.
Part of what makes the holidays so stressful is not feeling connected to the one you love, your spouse or partner. This can be especially tough if you are the hosts and have lots of family and/or friends over for the holidays. There is so much pressure to be sure everyone has a good time that you silently toil away ending up exhausted and restless.
In this process you try to find time for yourself. You might be the one who does all the work or the one that sits on the couch watching football to escape. The truth is that if there is no connection, over time, this wears on your relationship — and you become disconnecting.
Though the holiday season is usually the time when love blossoms, it’s also the perfect environment for a relationship to explode. With everything else on your check list this season, I’ve created a few tips you can add to your holiday plans that will ensure your relationship thrives during the holidays.
LET THEM KNOW THEY HAVE YOUR SUPPORT
One super helpful holiday relationship tip to is do periodic check-ins with each other so you can stay connected during the holiday.
What’s a check-in you might ask?
Well, it’s when you take time to check-in and see how your mate is doing. It can be at the coffee maker when you loving walk up behind your mate and say, “How are your doing baby?” Or you step into the kitchen right before the guests start arriving and say, “Honey, you’ve done a great job here. How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to support you?”
But be careful. If you don’t get the check-in right, it can be rebuffed. For example:
“I tried to check-in with her during the holiday gathering.
I said, ‘How are you doing? She said, ‘Fine.’ And that was the end of the story.”
The problem with asking your loved one this question, is that it is overused and people have a knee jerk reaction.
MAKE A PLAN
With any successful outcome, a plan is needed. This is true for staying connected over the holiday as well. The first thing you need to do is speak to your partner before hand and let them know they are not alone. Let them know you want to stay connected and check in with each other during the festivities.
During the event, take your partner aside and ask how s/he is doing. Do not ask the question in front of a room of people. Your mate may not feel safe sharing feelings in front of others.
LEND A HAND
The reason the holidays are particularly tricky is that if you came from a family like mine, in Houston Texas, Mom did absolutely everything. Dad and the rest of us didn’t do much. She was responsible for most of the clean up as well. Looking back, no wonder she was always grumpy during the holidays.
Luckily times have changed. Men now get involved and cook the meal and keep things in order. However, its easy to get stuck in tradition and repeat what you saw in your family growing up. Sometimes even today, we need to keep educating family and friends about being more supportive and sharing the load. We also have to get more comfortable asking for help and delegating.
If you and your mate have made a plan and have decided you’re going to survive this holiday season with ease, work the plan.
So when you take your partner to the side and say, “I want to check-in with you. How are you feeling? If you get “fine,” you should make a reflective statement like, “Babe you are seeming irritable or stressed out. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Often this will cause your mate to open up and express their true feelings and needs. One woman said, “Well I’m not feeling a lot of pressure for everyone to have a good time.”
BE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOUR MATE NOT THE GUESTS
During social gatherings, especially when you two are the hosts, it’s not uncommon for you to feel responsible for everyone having a good time. From cooking the meals to making sure your guests have clean towels, you feel a type of pressure no one else feels.
The truth is, it’s not up to you or anyone else if others have a good time. It’s the individual's responsibility to enjoy themselves. If the burden is on your head, your internal pressure is likely to be very high and you may take it out on the person you feel safest with - your mate.
If your mate says something like, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” It might be difficult for you to stop and take a moment to really tune in and connect and receive support but it’s worth it.
It can help you break a vicious cycle of the over responsibility that leads to resentment. When the holidays are done you feel exhausted and need to recover instead of fulfilled and happy about a great holiday gathering.
You see you don’t have to be side by side to feel connected. You can be across the room but have that one person you can look at who knows you and has your back. He/she can also help you check yourself if you are doing too much or taking on too much responsibility.
Your mate can help you take a step back and let go of some of the unnecessary pressure you put on yourself.
Remember the holiday is there for you as well. And your mate is your gift to help you get through it.
If you need some help finding the right words with your family to keep your connection strong or even avoiding family feuds please call me at 212-799-8770. I would be glad to help.