Holidays and Relationships

Holidays are a busy time — year end projects, parties, shopping, not to mention your non-holiday, day to day responsibilities involving work and family. Add a new relationship to the mix and things can get really tricky. Why? Well, despite romantic notions of seamless holiday cheer and winter wonderland romance, a new love means you’ve got another person’s schedule and rituals to take into consideration along with your own. And most people are committed to their traditions!

Luckily, a little foresight and preparation can help you avoid the headache and make the holidays a reason to celebrate being together.

Schedule your celebrations
Just because you think you know the holiday plan or you haven’t had time to think about it yet doesn’t mean it’ll go exactly as you imagine or be smooth sailing. Remember that your partner probably has plans of their own and it’s going to take some compromise to make sure you both stay in the seasonal spirit. Talk about your holiday activities early. Decide where you’ll go, and don’t expect to dominate all decisions. If it’s Thanksgiving with their family, maybe it’s Christmas with yours. If your company parties fall on the same night, maybe you fly solo or split time at both. If you don’t get much time off, do something special with the days you do have.

Do your homework!
Even if you’ve met your significant other’s family before, holiday gatherings can be a little more complicated. After all, stress is high and there are more family members present. So, the more information you can collect ahead of time, the less likely you are to be taken by surprise later. Are there subjects to avoid, familial dynamics you haven’t been exposed to? Talk to your mate before the date and maybe even make a plan for if things get uncomfortable. Of course if it’s your family we’re talking about, you’ll want to prepare your partner in the same way!

Start new traditions
While traditions are familiar and nostalgic, you’re not limited to the standard means of celebration. There’s no rule that says you can’t forgo the travel and preparation and go out for a quiet meal together. Or exchange the glazing for a little star gazing. This is your chance to invent new traditions and find what the holidays will mean to you, now that you’re sharing them together. Don’t get bogged down by what you expect them to look like or what you feel is expected of you. Your rituals should reflect your life and your loved ones, not just the echoes of past holidays.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to honor the holidays, but it is important to honor them. There’s no rule that you have to stuff your face with sugar cookies and candy canes — or travel hundreds of miles to be with people you don’t see very often — especially when the definition of family is fluid. You may be family to each other; your friends may be your family; their family may be your family. We get lost in the routine of warring priorities in our lives — keeping promises, fulfilling responsibilities and pursuing goals. Special occasions are a chance to take a step back from all of that, to celebrate why we bother. When you acknowledge these days as a time set apart from the rest and take time to appreciate those you love, you honor the reason we have holidays at all.

How do you juggle your holiday responsibilities and relationships and stay spiritual during the season? Share your secrets or get advice now!

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