Anne Russey Counseling is located in Katy, Texas west of Houston. Anne offers in person and online counseling sessions for individuals who want anxiety treatment, counseling for moms in all stages, postpartum depression treatment, postpartum anxiety treatment or are looking for LGBT counseling.
Guest Post by Shelly Kessinger, LPC (Owner of Friendswood Marriage Counseling)
As a marriage and couples therapist, here are 7 tips to weather-proof your relationship during this time of year:
Do not target your spouse.
Please do not blame your spouse for everything just because they are right there. Spouses are an easy target for our frustrations and stress, but that does not mean they are always the right target. Instead, talk to your partner about how stressed you are, talk to them about how you are feeling. During stressful times, healthy couples turn towards each other as opposed to away from each other. Please add the disclaimer to your spouse that you are not looking for solutions, advice or even guidance. You just want to vent to them. This may sound like this, “Hey honey, I am having a stressful time right now, can I just vent to you real quick? I don’t need you to solve it, but it would mean a lot to me if you just listened to me and held my hand.”
Make memories for just the two of you.
Think of something that is meaningful to you and make a memory. Forget the in-laws, the siblings, and even the kids just for a moment. Carve out some time to do something meaningful for just the two of you. Here are a few ideas: Play your wedding song or a Christmas song and have a dance together. Hang a surprise mistletoe somewhere and kiss your spouse. Buy a holiday-themed craft beer and drink them outside after the kids have gone to sleep. The key is to do something different that is just for the two of you to enjoy and remember. When the holidays are over and it is back to the daily grind, what do you want to remember about this season? Make a memory with your spouse that will make you smile when you think back on it.
Talk to your partner.
This may sound weird or obvious. But ideally, I would want you to be able to answer all these questions about your partner: What is your partner’s favorite Christmas memory? Did they have real or fake trees growing up? What traditions did they have growing up? What was their favorite holiday? What was their best and worst holiday season and why? What was their favorite holiday food? What were some of the memorable gifts they received as a small kid? Having meaningful conversations with your spouse can help your relationship, help you understand each other more, help you grow closer, and help make your partner feel cared for and validated. All big things that can come from a small conversation.
Help and respect your partner.
If your partner really wants to do something, then try not to argue or nag, don’t say why it is a bad idea or how much time it will take. Be open to other ways of doing things. Your spouse has different ideas than you, and that is okay. If your spouse wants to try a new schedule for visiting all the families or if your partner is wanting to deep-fry a turkey this year, then offer to help out. Respect and offering help are extremely valuable to your relationship.
Acknowledge that things will go wrong.
Stay calm and don’t let it get to you, e.g. if your relatives get into a fight, the food burns, one of your partners family members keeps annoying you. Try and keep a calm attitude, and don’t engage in the conflict. Remember it is a holiday. It is not supposed to be stressful; it is supposed to be a celebration. Try and enjoy the day off and celebrate. Be present, don’t think about the future or which in-law will be ignoring you or how many gifts you still need to wrap. Just take a deep breath, and face the issues as they come.
Release the guilt.
You cannot do all the things. You cannot be at 100% all the time to all the people, and that is okay. Guilt comes from having morals. You feel guilty because you honor your family and you honor your relationship. The guilt comes from a good moral place. But logically, you cannot say yes to everything offered. If you say ‘yes’ to everything, then you risk feeling stressed, irritable and impatient. So, accept you cannot do it all, and be okay with this. Check out this link for specific details on visiting your family vs your partners family. I was quoted in this article about how to handle the guilt of spending the holidays with your partner vs your family. The author did a great job of tying all the suggestions together. https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-handle-the-guilt-of-spending-the-holidays-with-your-partner-vs-your-family-19369507
Say “Thank You” to your partner.
Thank you for helping with the kids, thank you for hanging up the lights, thank you for cleaning up the kitchen, thank you for picking up extra ice for the party. Be sure to notice any small things and acknowledge it. Verbalizing your appreciation supports a healthy relationship.
Hope these ideas are helpful to you and your partner. Take care of yourselves and take care of your relationship! Happy holidays!
I’m so grateful to Shelly for sharing these helpful tips and strategies for managing some of the extra stress and strain holidays can put on our relationships. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram to learn more about Friendswood Marriage Counseling, located in southeast Houston and how counseling can enhance your relationship. Shelly offers marriage counseling, pre-marital counseling, couples counseling and individual counseling.
Learn more about Anne Russey Counseling, located in Katy, Texas.