How to Protect Your Relationship from Holiday Stress

The holidays are generally filled with an array of festivities and family gatherings.

In addition to the festive spirit, tension and stress can also operate on overdrive during the holidays.

The baking, present buying, scheduling, and overall busyness can get incredibly overwhelming during this time of year. Also, families tend to get together during the holidays, which means dealing with in-laws and extended family.

It’s no surprise that relationships take a huge hit from dealing with holiday stress.

However, you can protect your relationship from this type of seasonal stress. The following tips are on how to do just that.

Embrace Reality

The Hallmark channel has sort of set women and families up for failure. Not only Hallmark, but nearly every commercial or advertisement depicts a nearly impossible reality that women are expected to create.

You’ve undoubtedly seen it—the perfect “home for the holidays” home. It’s as if they took a picture from Pinterest and plastered it into the real world. Of course, it is smelling of cinnamon and spice, illuminated with a warm ambiance, and not a single thing out of place.

This isn’t reality. It’s a picture. Although we all want it, cookie crumbs happen and so do messy houses.

Protect your relationship by avoiding the hype. The Pinterest perfect home is probably not going to happen and that’s okay. Be kind to yourself and your partner by not expecting perfection.

Share the Load

Approaching the end of the year, both of you are going to have more on your plates than usual. ‘Tis the season for off-kilter routines and approaching end-of-the-year deadlines, so gear up for the extra load.

It’s especially important to be upfront with each other over the holidays. Talk about what you need from your partner in terms of emotional support or physical help. Effective communication will help protect your relationship while in the throes of holiday stress.

As your holiday to-do list grows longer, the need for help increases, too. Be sure that neither of you is taking on more or less of the load. As you share the load you share the stress.


Many families have traditions that revolve around big meals and exchanging presents. Both of these traditions can really add up in your checkbook. Not to mention the cost of travel.

It’s not uncommon for a family’s budget to double during the holidays. Needless to say, this is prime time for financial issues to wreak havoc in a relationship.

If you want to protect your relationship from this turmoil, make sure you plan ahead. Set a budget together and stick to it. Avoid letting money troubles drive a wedge between you and your partner.

Focus on the Right Things

With so many flashy advertisements, it can become easy to only see the things that you want opposed to the things you already have. Naturally, this line of thinking leads to a sense of wanting or needing more. If left unchecked, these negative thoughts can quickly turn into an attitude of ungratefulness.

To protect your relationship and spare it from the impact of negative emotions, choose to be thankful. Take time together to examine your life. Make a point of paying attention to the things for which you are thankful.

Most likely, your relationship will make the list. This simple shift in focus can help to bring light to the good things in your life and keep negative emotions from harming your relationship.

The Take Home Message

The holidays can be a time of both joy and stress. It’s a concoction to be handled with care. When you’re feeling tense, your partner is probably taking the brunt of that tension.

If you’re looking for support to protect your relationship over the holidays, please contact me. I’d be happy to talk with you about a strategy to strengthen your relationship and help keep the holidays a positive experience for you.

To read more about Couples Therapy click here.