Staying connected during holidays can be tricky, but it’s also necessary

 In Rio Rancho Observer Column

Many couples find themselves less connected and more stressed out during this time of year, and many find themselves in my office overwhelmed with the many activities and obligations that this time of year brings.

Financial stress, in-law battles and, at times, blended family concerns can complicate this time of year for many couples.

It is true, that many couples rarely make time for one another during this busy season and they likely are spending less and less time together than the rest of the year.

Remaining connected might be tricky, but it’s absolutely possible and necessary.

Here are a few ideas for reducing stress and staying connected during the holiday season.

1. Choose wisely and fairly.

Talk to your partner about the events that are planned and decide together where you will go for which holiday, and consider alternating the choices every year to remain fair and compromising. Try to hear one another out regarding wishes and traditions so you can validate and support each other. Explain these plans to all those involved so that they can also support your plans made as a couple. Being selective as well as compromising and fair with your holiday plans minimizes stress and lets you enjoy the events you do attend.

2. Have special traditions.

Most couples come into relationships with a number of traditions from their extended families, which are great to continue, but it’s very important to create traditions that involve just the two of you. These rituals help to bolster the bond, and they protect against potential stressors — for instance, your traditions might include selecting a new ornament every year, giving a meaningful gift or enjoying a special holiday date.

3. Sneak in together time.

Cook a meal together, go to the movies or use time in the car to catch up. During a party or family function, be sure to carve out some time together and keep interacting. If the couple is staying out of town, they can try going to their room 30 minutes before bed, go for walks or run errands together. If the couple has kids, this time without mom and dad can help the kids bond with their other relatives as well as give the couple some time to connect.

4. Get creative together.

Couples can do things together like wrap gifts, make cookies, decorate the house with lights, create a collage of pictures and write an annual holiday letter, or make a favorite playlist to practice dance moves together. As the calendar comes to a close, this is a great time to reflect on the past year together and reminisce on the memories the couple has created this year. Having fun together and enjoying one another is what relationships are all about.

5. Make time for intimate moments.

It’s important to connect with your partner in all areas of your relationship, and that includes physical intimacy. This is a time to be adventurous and maybe try different locations, positions or activities. Or you might just try being “quiet in a house full of loved ones.”

Connecting during the holidays might be a challenge, but with a little bit of planning and effort, you can have fun as a couple and nourish your bond.

(Nikki Delaney is a licensed counselor and owner of A New You Counseling in Rio Rancho, which received the Marriage Counselor: Best of Rio Rancho Award in 2015. Nikki is the creator of the “Roommates to Romance” program, which transforms relationships by tailoring counseling to a couple’s specific needs. You can submit “Love Letter” questions to nikki@anewyoucounseling.com or rioranchocouplescounseling.com.)

(Guest columns and letters are published as submitted, without fact-checking or corrections. They represent the belief/opinion of the author. Publishing these viewpoints does not represent an endorsement by the Observer or any member of our staff. Our prevailing aim is to facilitate a spirited but rational and respectful community dialogue on the array of issues and challenges we face collectively. Toward that end, we welcome submissions from all perspectives.)

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