What Can Strain a Romantic Relationship During the Holiday Season?

What Can Strain a Romantic Relationship During the Holiday Season?

In theory, the holiday season is a magical time of year. In practice, it is often fraught with stress and relational tension.

Gift giving is an arena that frequently causes avoidable pressure. We are socialized — through films, romance novels and advertising — to imagine that if someone really loves us, and gets us, they will intuitively select the perfect holiday gift thus demonstrating their true devotion. Unfortunately, most of us are not mind readers, so gifts often underwhelm, overwhelm, or disappoint. If you find yourself fantasizing about a particular holiday gift, be direct and invite your beloved to fulfill this fantasy. Share your wishes and steer your significant other in the right gift-giving direction by sending them to a particular store, a specific website or a precise item. Gary D. Chapman’s bestselling The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts contains wonderful insights about how some view gifts as an essential component of romantic love while others do not equate gifts with how they express or experience devotion. Nether orientation is right or wrong, but if you care about gift giving, let you partner know how you feel. If your partner cares about gift giving, prioritize this desire (within reason) rather than judging their wish. If you continue to experience holiday gift-giving tension, read The 5 Love Languages for useful instructions on gifts and other languages of love.

Many of us feel attached to long-standing holiday traditions. We associate them with some of the happiest moments of childhood and often feel strongly about continuing these rituals. Nevertheless, inflexibility about embracing the traditions of our partners can generate anger, disengagement and resentment that risk spoiling the holidays and damaging or demising relationships. Instead, consider that new experiences may feel uncomfortable at first, but they usually generate emotional growth. Express curiosity about partner’s traditions and demonstrate a willingness to participate in new experiences. Even if one person’s family has more “fun” carrying out their holiday rituals, there is probably something meaningful and beautiful that the partner whose traditions are less “fun” will bring to the collective holiday table.

Elisabeth LaMotte

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