The festive season is synonymous with fun but it also comes with a dizzying array of demands such as nagging friends, family, jam-packed social events and scores of other chores, which will definitely take a toll on your relationship. However, you and your partner can still minimise the stress that often accompany the holidays with these practical tips.

1. Plan and budget: With the current precarious economic times characterised by high unemployment rate, high interest rates and high cost of living, the holiday season can be a stressful time indeed. It is a reality that during the holiday season, many people experience heightened anxiety partly due to financial pressures as many spend on special gifts and treats over the holidays. And there is nothing wrong with this as long as you plan and budget to avoid overspending.  Often, people feel the pressure to buy gifts for loved ones over the holidays. The best gift is endless love but this should not limit you from purchasing a tangible gift for those close to your heart. Go for a meaningful, well-thought-out gift. The point is to wow your loved one with your thoughtfulness. By planning and budgeting in advance, you can get to treat your loved ones without putting pressure on your finances and feeling the heat, especially come January.

2. Manage expectations: During the holidays, it is best to try and keep your levels of expectations low, after all, the lower your expectation is, the lower your disappointment level is going to be.  The media can easily distort your mind on how the holidays should feel, what gifts to get and how people are going to react to your gift. But you need to manage the expectations by being true to yourself. For instance, it is unfair to equate the love your partner has for you with the size of the gift they may get you.

3. Ask for help: Juggling busy social events as well as entertaining out-of-town loved ones who may be visiting can also be strenuous not only financially, but also emotionally.  For instance, if friends and relatives descend on you for the holiday season, it could seriously strain you. Avoid scheduling too many parties and family obligations, and even for the few you have, ask people to help out. Learn to delegate tasks so that one person doesn’t bear the burden alone.

4. Create time for yourself and your partner: Make real effort to reconnect with your partner by limiting and being selective of the social and family events to attend. Opt for social events that give you opportunities to connect with your partner such as a dinner or gala night. Sometimes just touching each other – not sexually but lovingly – while you’re socialising with other people can help make a connection since subtle and frequent love signals often have more power than even grand gestures.

5. Cultivate the true spirit of the holiday season: Gifts, shimmering decorations, and numerous party invitations are an indication of the onset of the holiday season. But the true meaning of the season is more about opening our hearts to others rather than flashy presents. You and your partner can choose to spread some cheer over the season by sharing your time or resources with the less fortunate in your community, and taking time to count what you are grateful for throughout the year. This will create some magic between you and your partner just by sharing the holiday with someone you love.

It’s not always easy to stay calm amidst holiday chaos, but with the above tips, you can avoid conflict and keep your relationship on track.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Published December 2015