Unfortunately, Holidays can be stressful for individuals as well as couples. The added tension may lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration rather than joy and happiness.
In a marriage, either of you may have unattainable expectations. You may dread the extra tasks and/or the financial burden that comes with the season. One of you may be desperately searching for the “perfect gifts.” One of you may be sad because you won’t be with some loved ones. You may feel obligated to accept all invitations, even the ones that predictably might be unpleasant. Any of these conditions alone might lead to distress during the Holidays.
Ideally, healthy couple’s calmly and respectfully discuss stressors and find ways to lessen the stress and enjoy the Holidays. They can help each other re-adjust expectations to better match reality. They might simplify their plans, eliminate unnecessary activities and/or stick to an affordable budget.
But addition to the individual stressors, you and your partner may have power struggles over your different expectations, approaches or ideas about the Holidays. You may not talk about your differences, but silently judge your partner as being wrong. You may ignore your partner’s opinions, being unaware of the distance that may be created by not paying attention. You may argue with each other, and difficulty finding satisfactory resolutions. You may reluctantly agree with your partner, but repress your resentment for not being considered. Any of these responses might lead to additional irritation, frustration, resentment, sadness and/or disappointment.
Resolving differences involves each partner consciously focusing on taking care of the marriage at the same time you work on resolving your differences. This requires that you each listen carefully and validate your partner. Within the context of feeling love and consideration for each other, it becomes easier to create a solution that is respectful of both of you and that appears to be reasonably satisfying. If the resolution works, you keep it; if it doesn’t work, you tweak it.
As you envision the Holidays with each other, focus on enriching your marriage by making the season realistic, relaxing, warm, satisfying and joyful.