How The Holidays Can Affect Relationships
Orlando Counselor Shares Tips For Creating A Proactive Plan
According to Orlando couples counselors and marriage therapists who specialize in relationship issues, in-laws and the holidays can often put a strain on a couple’s relationship. Marriage therapists and couples counselors in Orlando assert that even the strongest relationship can be put under pressure during the holiday season and offers the following tips to help you enjoy the upcoming holidays together.
If you are part of a couple, the holidays at the end of year are often a time of spending time with each other’s family. As we approach the holiday season, it is a good time to discuss “home for the holidays” with your partner. Where you will spend Thanksgiving and winter break? If you have already negotiated this decision successfully and are satisfied with the decision, well done!
If this is still an area that needs to be thought through or re-thought, here are some pointers to guide your discussion. While change is disruptive, you both can work out a joint plan so the holidays are enjoyable for both of you. Orlando marriage therapist and relationship counselors indicate that with some thought and diplomacy, you and your partner can create a plan that is right for you.
- Start by taking a status check. Are both of you happy with the current understanding of when you will see each side of the family? Perhaps you visit his parents for Thanksgiving and her parents for the other holidays you celebrate or winter break. Or perhaps you host everyone for Thanksgiving and do not get together again for winter break. No matter what the configuration, are both of you satisfied with it? If yes, then the mission is complete. If not, what would you like to change? E.g. the travel is too hectic or too expensive, it is too much work to host everyone, this year you’d like to have a quiet winter break instead of a family gathering.
- Now that you know what you’d like to change, what is negotiable and what is not? E.g. Are his parents especially committed to having all five children together for Thanksgiving? Realistically, can you really bow out of attending this gathering? As a couple, discuss what can be changed. What is “cost” this change might make in your family relationships, and is that is a price you are willing to pay? As you discuss it, you might decide it is better to continue with the usual plan.
- Now that you know what you want to change and what can be changed, create your ideal scenario. Who do you sincerely want to see? Is there an elderly or ill relative you’d like to see again while it is still possible? Is there someone you’d like to avoid? Is there a favorite tradition in which you want to participate? If it involves travel, what weather will you deal with at that time of year? For how long do you want to go? Can you afford it?
- Once you and your partner have answered these questions and come up with an Ideal Scenario, it is time to introduce these changes to the affected family members. Anticipate their reactions, and prepare to handle them diplomatically. Be willing to offer a gentle explanation of why you are making the change, e.g. “We really enjoy seeing you, but this year we (pick one of the following) …thought it would be a good time to spend the week at home …would like take a trip to the ski lodge we’ve been wanting to visit etc.”
It is possible that they will be surprised, upset, feel slighted or rejected. So be sure to acknowledge what you usually enjoy about seeing them. “We’ll sure miss mom’s pecan pie this year!” Is it possible to see them some other time? “Hopefully we can get together at the upcoming family wedding.”
- If you decide not to attend a family gathering, take care to keep the bonds of the relationships intact. Show your generous spirit and find a way to be present in their lives on the actual day. You can send a package or card to be opened that day. You can call/Skype and talk to everyone. Reaffirm your love to the family, help them feel secure in your affection.
With an honest discussion and careful pre-planning, it is possible for you and your partner to make this a win-win. We all deserve to enjoy the holidays. At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, our couples counselor and marriage therapist can help you and your partner take the time to work out a solution that works for both of you.