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Holiday Stress Takes a Toll on Happy Couples Too (18)

Posted Dec 09 2009 2:59pm
holiday-stressOne of the myths about holiday season stress is that it effects singles, and unhappy couples, while having little or no impact on couples who have a solid and happy relationship. That’s simply not true.

Happy couples, particularly those in the first five years of their relationship, are often caught totally surprised when holiday pressure causes them to snap at one another. Our message this day is not filled with bah humbug, but is simply cautionary. The holiday season can bring great joy, but it also brings a degree of stress to nearly all. So beware of those stress points and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Here are three common points where we encounter holiday stress and  some easy to apply solutions when you or your partner have that feeling that you are coming “unwrapped,” as the big day approaches.

Three Common Stress Points During the Holiday Season

One, Too Much To Do.  The Problem: It seems obvious, but we tend to forget or ignore this reality. This is particularly true when your holiday involves young children or grandchildren. It just seems that enough is never enough, and when you think you’re making progress on your holiday “to do” list, that darn list keeps getting longer.

The Solution: If that to do list is constantly getting out of hand try to do more early on. Obviously you can’t wind the clock back to early October, but remember this lesson for subsequent years: Do what you can while you can easily get it done. If you see that perfect gift, grab it, it doesn’t matter if it’s October 1st, or April 1st. Do what any smart squirrel would do and hide it away. (Leave yourself a reminder of the what and where of course.) As to the other aspect of the unwieldy to do list, remember this simple fact: You’re never going to get it all done. Shoot for getting most of it right. The desire to have it all perfect is a classic form of self-inflicted stress. Recognize that happy trap, and don’t go there.

Two, Company for The Holidays. The Problem: Well in truth, there isn’t just one problem. Because company for the holidays can range from joy to agony depending on who your visitors are. But for most of us holiday visitors can cause their own degree of crazy making so know that before the doorbell rings and talk about it with your significant other.

The Solution: If his mother has a few too many “suggestions,” or her dad can be a real pain, particularly after his third scotch and soda, talk about this well before their arrival. Now you may think, that’s just an invitation to an argument, but honesty, if not complete at least in part, is a better policy. Pick a time before your company’s arrival when both of you are alone and relaxed and looking forward to the holidays. These can be touchy topics indeed, but giving them a little daylight and communicating honestly about them is far better than remaining bundled up inside as the stress builds to a boiling point.

Three, Holiday Travel. The Problem: Well if you don’t know the problem(s) you probably have not traveled during the holidays. Jammed airports, packed train stations, busy bus terminals, and highways that can look like a sea of red tail lights.

The Solution: Go expecting long lines and be thankful for every favorable break you receive. If your flights on time, do a little happy dance. (At least do that in your head, security might be watching.) For the three hour car trip that is now the five hour crawl, come prepared with some of your favorite music, load up the kids with car trip diversions for peace in the back seat. Rushing to pack the car, and leaving late is just a recipe for the perfect stress storm. Know before you go all those points that beat you down during a long hard slog, and come up with a plan that best prepares your mind, and your heart, to be in a place of peace.

Preparation and a positive attitude is the best preparation for a stress reduced, if not stress free, holiday season.

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