Tips for Surviving the Holidays as a New Couple!

{Read in 3 Minutes} Have you ever seen the movie “Four Christmases” with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon? It is about a young couple trying to escape having to see their families during the holidays. Divorced parents, new spouses, old traditions, and different lifestyles, drives them to run far away … only to be grounded due to weather. When their family sees them interviewed on the news for plane delays, the fun begins as the families begin the pressure for them to come home to “enjoy” Christmas with ALL of them…separately! Will they stay together as a couple?  

Once again, we are into the holiday season which, for many couples, is akin to traversing a minefield — dealing with extended, nuclear, and blended families, not to mention each other. The issues are often a catalyst for emotional “triggers” between a couple, which are as cyclical as the holidays.

Our families can present many very stressful challenges. It’s no coincidence that the number one month for filing for divorce is January.

Here are some helpful tips for surviving and thriving as a couple through the holidays:

· Give up your expectations of a perfect holiday season. Remember the movie “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase? As the lead character and family man, all he asked for was the “perfect” family Christmas. What he got was a plethora of calamities, a destroyed home, and a night in jail. Chances are it won’t go that far for you, but it does show how our minds can get carried away when we set impossible expectations.

· If you weren’t communicating before the holidays, don’t expect magic to happen now. Either table your personal disagreements until the holidays are over or see a relationship coach or counselor NOW to assist you in developing and improving your communication skills! This is the key to successfully navigating your way through your personal and family conflicts which come up every year.

· Don’t make promises when under pressure. Give yourselves enough time to figure out what YOU want to do, then let everyone know. Will some relatives be disappointed? Of course. But the key is not to feel pressured. What good is all that good cheer if you are doing things reluctantly or just to check the boxes?

If you are a blended family, there are usually two main points which often cause increased dissent — money and traditions.

· Pick a benchmark amount to spend on each child and DO NOT go over the limit — especially behind the other’s back. Divorce often brings competition and one-upmanship, especially during the holidays, which only serves to generate anger and hurt feelings. You don’t want the residue from your broken relationship to damage your new one.

· Go over what traditions are the most important to you and why. Clearly, it can’t be all one person’s way. Some of the most debated items are how to decorate the tree, what to eat, what time to eat and open gifts, who to buy gifts for and what age to stop, who to visit first and whether dinner is sit down or family-style.

Take the initiative to change the harmful, dysfunctional patterns of the past. Forget the china and good silverware — no one cares but you. Instead, invest in yourselves as a couple. Spend time together enhancing your commitment to each other by having more fun and less stress. Discuss what matters most to you and negotiate how you want to spend the holidays — in turmoil or having fun! Consider your mutual values and grow healthier as a couple. That is truly a gift that will increase your happiness long after the holidays are forgotten, and all the toys are put away.

Most important, give up perfection and HAVE FUN!