Ways the holidays can stress couples out (and how to deal)

The holidays are, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time full of parties and delightful, frosted carbs. And also a time to get a little closer with our significant others. Which is usually a good thing, but when you add gifts, parties, family, friends, and infinite mistletoe, it can all become a little much. Additionally, high expectations can stir up unexpected lows in our love and relationship department. And that can be stressful for couples to navigate.

But remember, the holiday season should be a fun time when you get to actually spend time with the people you love. It’s a time to chill out and go with the flow, not pick fights with your boo (or deal with them picking fights). But alas, things do happen because LIFE. Let’s identify those pesky holiday stress points that can sneak up on our relationships and go over ways to solve these issues before they even start.

Finding the perfect gift

In many relationships, there is someone who gifts socks and someone who gifts gold, glamorous jewels and surprise, all-inclusive vacations. During the holiday season, it is imperative that you and your significant other identify who is who and adjust your expectations accordingly. Are you the person who gives socks? Give your partner the heads up that you had another panic attack at the mall this year and couldn’t think of a whole lot besides the practical (don’t give away what you got them, I mean, you don’t have to be a MONSTER!). Promise you will make it up to them by never complaining when they watch the same old Will and Grace reruns over and over. That is the way you show your love. As for you glamorous givers: send a very specific Christmas list this year. Crisis averted.

Drinking too much

Holiday parties are pretty great and usually boozy. I know this because 80% of the ones I’ve attended have involved grown men lip-syncing their hearts out to the Backstreet Boys (and yes, they have been glorious). But boozy parties have a downside: fighting with your significant other for no other reason other than you both had one too many shots of peach schnapps. So remain calm. In the aftermath of a holiday party, it is best to forget that your partner spilled red wine down your back during the last round of Pictionary. You should also forgive them for the awkward amount of time they spent trying to get people to notice a funny joke they were attempting with the dog under the mistletoe. Do not allow spiked eggnog to bring out your inner Grinch.

Agreeing upon an appropriate level of holiday cheer

The difference between pessimists and optimists is never more pronounced than during the holiday season. Those whose holiday-cheer levels have remained relatively intact since childhood become a painful reminder to pessimists of their own, lost innocence. Unfortunately, because opposites attract, pessimists and jolly little elves often find themselves stuck in a relationship together during the holidays. As frustrating as this may seem, there is a simple solution: Don’t be a Scrooge, ya pessimists! Grab a candy cane and be glad you’re with someone who can shepherd you through this dark time with some cheer. And those of you who cannot contain your holiday excitement, just be aware of your partner’s feelings. Don’t overwhelm them. Be gentle with that festive-ness.

Too much heart-felt everything

The holiday season is a lot like going to Las Vegas for young couples: you get swept up in the atmosphere (or Stratosphere. . .literally) and the next thing you know, you’re in a wedding chapel with an Elvis impersonator screaming, “he went to Jared!!!” Though some people refer to this as “Engagement Season,” I find it’s best to refrain from big relationship decisions during this emotionally charged time of year. Just wait until Valentines Day!

Visiting family

For most of the year, you get to enjoy time with your partner in a cocoon of Chinese takeout, Always Sunny In Philadelphia marathons and inside jokes. But at Christmas time, you’re forced out of your shell and into a strange kitchen with Uncle Walter and Grandma June. It’s sometimes hard to feel comfortable with other people’s families and it’s also hard to take care of your new partner while trying to visit with your own family. The best way to deal is to view yourselves as a team. You’re a super couple, after-all. Both of your families deserve equal love and attention and, as a team, you can do this. When you’re with your partner’s family, you have to pretend you’re having fun and never want to leave. If it is your own family, you have to keep an ear open for when Uncle Walter tries to talk awkward politics with your boyfriend and be prepared to intervene.

Juggling the many holiday parties of two sets of friends

What happens when your best friend and your boyfriend’s boss throw a holiday party on the same night? Be prepared to hop. The more formal the party, the earlier in the night you show up. Impromptu drunk Backstreet Boys sing-alongs go last. Together, you can do this. You should want to spend some quality time with each other’s friends and, given that holiday magic is in the air, you should try not to split up. It’s more romantic to navigate the parties arm-in-arm. After all, it’s all about team work and compromise, right?

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