Less Stress, More Love

by Greg and Priscilla Hunt, Certified Specialists in Marriage Enrichment

Are you planning for the holidays? Planning menus, dinner parties, shopping excursions. Planning gift-giving, card-sending, trips to visit family. Planning volunteer work and end-of-year giving. This time of year is a setup for experiencing personal and relational stress.

Follow these relationship tips and ensure you’ll both experience less stress and more love this holiday season.

Practice Good Communication

Remember to include your partner at the discussion stage of holiday planning. Resist the temptation to map everything out and simply inform your partner. We all want to be taken seriously and we each have preferences and desires related to how the holidays will be spent.

Create Quality Time

Remember to build into the busy schedule quiet, down time with your mate. Sit in front of the fire and sip hot chocolate together. Listen to and sing along with holiday music. Play board games. Go for a walk. All these shared activities are important to ensure you emerge from the holidays with your relationship connection intact.

Make Room for Affection and Intimacy

When your hands are busy wrapping gifts and baking cookies they can’t be, well, doing other things. Your mate needs to experience your physical closeness – hand-holding, hugs, sex – and these can easily go by the wayside when you’re focused on other things. Cuddle on the sofa. Rub each other’s backs. Scoot your chair just a little bit closer.

Cut Each Other Some Slack

When we’re stressed there’s lots of opportunity for misunderstandings. You can choose to become irritated with your spouse or you can choose to let it go. Now is a good time to give each other a break. Practice taking deep breaths and calming yourself before responding.

Take Care of Yourself

Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night? Taking multivitamins? Exercising? Drinking plenty of water? All these things can help you feel stronger and ready for whatever the day brings. The holidays aren’t just about others – they are also about you.

Moderate Your Spending

It’s easy to go overboard with holiday spending. This alone can cause conflict and friction in your relationship. Is one of you a saver and one of you a spender? Lots of room here for negative feelings toward the other. And it’s no fun when the bills come due in January! Think of non-material or homemade gifts, particularly for friends and co-workers. Perhaps a mini banana nut bread loaf or a tin filled with candy. How about a heart-felt note printed on your computer in calligraphy and placed in a small frame? Gifts don’t need to be extravagant to express your love and well wishes. It truly is the thought that counts when it’s evident that you’re putting thought into your gift-giving.

Happy holidays can be a reality. But only if you’re willing to give it some thought and follow up with action.

Happy holidays to you – and to your special other!
More reading: Survival Guide for Couples: Home for the Holidays.