Beware of These Stressors Put on Your Relationship this Holiday Season

December 5, 2011  |  
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When it comes to managing stress, regardless of whether it’s around the holidays or the daily grind, it’s important to identify early when you are stressed, and how you personally plan to combat those feelings.  The holidays offer a heightened sense of stress for most Americans, especially with the intense pinching of pennies this year.  Take a good look at the stressors you might feel this holiday season, and how to prevent them from ruining your relationship.

1. Money

The holidays are a time of giving, but they shouldn’t put a strain on your finances. Set a reasonable budget of how much you want to spend on gifts and stick to it. You don’t want to deal with piles of credit card bills come January. If you are in a money crunch this year, buy small gifts for those closest to you or make your own handmade gifts instead.  Talk to your man about the dollar limit to set on all gifts, even yours!  Come January, after the hype and festivities of the holidays, you don’t want to find yourself in major debt and major fights with your partner.  Money is a stressful thing for everyone so be sure to keep honest communication alive and you’ll have a happy new year.

2. Infidelity

As random as this sounds, the holidays can often be a time of heightened stress which can lead to cheating. “One of the main reasons people have affairs is to counteract feelings of stress, separation or loss,” explains Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, “and the holidays can bring all these feelings up at once. We are easily stressed out, easily reminded of loved ones that are no longer with us or of family we find it hard to be around.”  The emotions of the holiday season, paired with the extra consumption of alcohol can increase vulterability and opportunities to stray.  As a sad fact states, over a lifetime, 22 percent of married men and 14 percent of married women have had sex with someone other than their spouse, and holiday stress can be just the trigger for some of these people.

3. Extra eating and drinking

As delicious as that chocolate fudge looks, or gooey that spinach dip is, put a limit on your eating this holiday season to help diminish extra stress.  When we eat too much, especially comfort foods, initially we feel warm, full, and happy.  However, 30 minutes down the road when our body realizes we have over-stuffed it, the feeling of guilt and stress can set in.  Many studies show that comfort food is used in place of releasing and acknowledging true emotions.  Don’t stifle your stress with a cream puff and extra wine.  That actually prolongs the problem and creates a snowball effect of unhappiness and stress.  You don’t deserve to feel guilty and stressed, so step away from the buffet table, and go cozy up with you honey under the mistletoe.


4. Keep limits

It’s easy to feel like we have to do everything and be everywhere in the holidays.   There are so many fun things that we want to do and many events that we are obligated to attend. However, it’s important when filling the calendar to decide as a couple or family how you want to chose to spend your time.  Spreading yourself too thin can cause a rift between you and your man when it seems that most of what you are doing is out of obligation, and not want.  Men don’t want to feel obligated to dress up, put on a smile, and mingle with strangers.  Sure, they’ll do it for you, but if you drag him to 3+ of these occasions, expect a tiff or two.  In advance, go through holiday party invites and prioritize where you will go together.  This way, you stick to the plan you have both created, and therefore no negative feelings will occur.

5. Comparison Trap

Another huge stressor is overdosing on comparing your relationship to those around you.   It’s the idea that someone else or the couple next door is doing it better or having a better time than you and your man.  Let’s face it lady’s, we can get very competitive with each other, and our men, and the holiday’s is an easy time to feel threatened.  You might subconsciously imagine that “they” have more friends, more money, more passion, more time, more opportunities, more freedom, more joy. We usually get jealous and assume others are having more of whatever we feel is missing in our own lives. So if anything, you can use your comparisons as an opportunity to deal with the fact that you are longing for something that you don’t feel you are getting. This way you can begin to discuss with your partner what you feel is missing.  Remember, appearances can be deceiving and the couple that you may think “have it all” could really be faking it for the holiday party or special occasion. Comparing can also add a lot of ill will toward your partner. It raises your resentment level and all of a sudden you start paying attention to all the little things you don’t like.   Be aware of this feeling and mentally shout “STOP!” at yourself, before you start nitpicking your partner and cutting his self-esteem down to where yours is.


So, how can you prevent unwanted stress between you and your man?

1. Talk it out

Before the holiday stress creeps up on you, talk to you husband or boyfriend about your expectations and possible stressors. Are you worried about time constraints? Do you want to avoid staying at your parents’ house? Find solutions before the problems even arise. Also, make a pact to not over-schedule yourselves. Create new family traditions that mean something to you both and focus on your relationship, rather than what you have to buy and where you have to go. Try to be flexible and maintain a sense of humor.

 2. Don’t forget to spend time together!

It may be difficult to actually have a date night or go to a movie together, in which case you can schedule an “at home date”. Decide to set aside one weekend night, or weekday if it works better for your schedules, to watch a movie, cook dinner together, play cards, or play a board game together. The point is to do something, just the two of you, without distractions. During the holidays most people are low on money and low on time.  At home dates, just like “stay-cations” are gaining popularity and can even strengthen your bond by refocusing on each other, not the glitz and glam of an expense date.

3. Remember the true meaning of the holiday

For Christians, Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and enjoy time with family, not an over-scheduled month where you are required to buy gifts for everyone you know and attend every party imaginable. No matter what you religious preferences, get grounded again and go back to basics. Slow down, try to ignore some of the commercialism and take time out to appreciate your partner.  Think about all the things you are lucky to have and all of the special people in your life.  That’s what really matters.

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