Bend, Oregon Relationship Counselor Explains How Couples Can Cope With Strain of the Holidays

December 9, 2011 by

The holidays are supposed to make us feel happy and loving and giving, but as a Bend, Oregon relationship counselor, I know that often they also bring with them stress that threatens to overshadow the good things about this time of year. Things like planning trips, dealing with family members, and looking for the perfect gift – or gifts – can cause frustrations and fights that lead to lasting marriage problems.

Make a Plan and Stick to it, Says Bend, Oregon Relationship Counselor

Marriage problems most often occur when one partner feels like the other isn’t listening to him or her. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult to stop and have a real dialogue during this hectic time, which is why a Bend, Oregon relationship counselor will tell you to plan your holidays in advance.

Well before the season is upon you, sit down together and plan how you are going to deal with gift-giving, family visits, and other stressors. Have an open, honest, and respectful discussion about how you will divide time between your families and any problems you think that might come up. If at all possible, set a budget for everything that you’re going to be doing and don’t go over it without talking to each other – the holidays are financially stressful enough without your partner finding out that you made an executive decision to spend an extra $500 on a ticket to fly Aunt Marnie out for a week. And when it comes to giving gifts to one another, consider exchanging wish lists and setting a budget to take some of the stress out of the process.

Adjust Your Expectations and Focus on Enjoying Time with Family

Part of the reason marriage problems occur over the holidays is because of impossible expectations. You want the perfect holiday for your parents, and your partner forgot to get bubble lights – they’ve ruined everything!

As a Bend, Oregon relationship counselor, I’ve had clients tell me stories like this over and over, and I always tell couples the same thing: be patient, and realize that there’s no such thing as perfect. The “perfect” holiday is one where you and your loved ones get to relax together and not stress about the little things that don’t turn out the way you want them to.