Don’t just survive, but savor the holiday season. Here are ten tips for couples

by Stephanie Steele, PhD, LMFT

1. Set realistic expectations. If you are travelling over the holidays and plan to see both family and friends (involving multiple get-togethers), consider otherwise. Given traffic and weather conditions as well as the hosting family’s expectations, it may not be possible to squeeze everything in. Consider what is most important to you and your partner.

2. Be flexible. Whether you plan to stay inside all day or go skiing and do many activities, try to keep an open mind and a schedule that seems feasible. Trying to cram too many events in one trip can lead to disappointment.



3. If you’re going to spend time with your family, remember that your other half is sacrificing time with their family.Although this likely alternates, make sure your partner is comfortable throughout the holiday and you are thankful they are coming to support you while creating bonds with your family and friends.

4. Establish and maintain healthy boundaries with family and friends. This includes not discussing any topics that you are not comfortable with and making sure you feel comfortable and safe with every family member or friend.

5. Be on the same team as your partner. This can be a difficult one, but being a united front together is very important. Putting your relationship before the relationship with your family is going to feel very respectful and supportive. Bonding together over the idiosyncrasies of family proves more successful for your relationship than bonding with the family over the idiosyncrasies of your partner.

6. Talk about situations that are “off limits” including, but certainly not limited to, family drama that has cropped up in the past year. Before you attend the family gathering, discuss with your partner areas of conversation that would better be left unsaid. It is important to know going in which areas of your life or others’ lives you feel comfortable divulging, and how much detail.

7. Stay away from religious or political conversations, if necessary. This one is self-explanatory and depends upon the family. Use your best judgment!

8. Practice good communication. Not just during the holidays, but this is a great time to ensure you are a friendly guest or welcoming host.

9. Work on creating positive memories. ‘Tis the season for memories! If you’re not planning on enjoying yourself, I hope you’d reconsider the investment of the holiday trip! Remember what the holidays are about and enjoy them fully!

10. Remember that the holidays are a great time to be thankful for friends, family, and of course, your spouse. Ensure the holidays draw you closer together, and launch you into the New Year with new hopes, aspirations and closer bonds.

Start the New Year off right!  Join Stephanie Steele, PhD, LMFT for a powerful one day couples workshop : Prepare/Enrich Group 1-Day Workshop.  Saturday, January 25th, 2014, from 9am-5pm.  

Posted on December 9, 2013 .