As you experience the excitement and fervor of your first holiday together as a couple, you need to be aware of a few pitfalls associated with this event. Fortunately, with a little strategy, patience, and perspective, you two can make your first holiday season one of happiness and fulfillment through the blending of old and new traditions. Here are some useful ways to meet both of your needs this season as you continue to expand on your developing relationship.
1. Take quality time out together
The holidays are chock full of responsibilities and expectations, with the potential for high stress outbursts that those we are closest to feel the most keenly. As part of a couple, it is your significant other that usually feels the brunt of these tensions. It is important to remember that you can be a support system for one another during challenging times, so stay tuned-in to your partner. Make the time to reconnect with one another, sharing activities that you both enjoy, no matter how cramped for time the two of you may feel. Even twenty minutes a day is helpful in re-centering your personal connection, and will rejuvenate your energy and spirit in your daily activities, holiday responsibilities included.
2. Celebrate old traditions
Incorporate some of each of your favorite traditions from the past into your own celebration. This is a lovely way to learn more about each other and deepen the bond in your relationship. You are bringing your two lives together, with respective memories and traditions, so rejoice in one another’s customs of comfort as you build new customs together as a couple.
3. Create new traditions
While reveling in old and familiar holiday celebrations that you share with your partner, don’t forget to start your own new traditions as a couple. This will allow the two of you something unique for the holidays that is dedicated only to you and your mate. Engage in activities- such as an ice-skating outing on Christmas Eve, or making or buying unique ornaments which represent memories you have made together- that you can intimately take delight in together.
4. Make a realistic agenda of events
Often, making it to every planned holiday event for two separate families is extremely stressful, if not impossible, depending on the family and amount of activities. It is best to plan ahead, as a couple, which activities you plan to attend. Obviously there needs to be compromise so both partners and their respective families feel they are not being slighted or disrespected. In creating an agenda, you can fairly split your time between both families and not exhaust yourselves by stretching your time so thin so as not to enjoy any of the family events.
5. Set conversational boundaries
When conversing with family members this season, agree as a couple which topics are off-limits or to be avoided. Usually the subject of marriage possibilities or ex-relationships are understandably steered clear of, but other contingencies- such as a family member who lost their house or job- are best left alone in order to preserve a comfortable and conversational tone at holiday gatherings.
6. During the family gathering
It is easy to feel overwhelmed at a family gathering, especially if the family is not your own, and full of their own unique personality quirks and stories. In general, there are a few simple things you can do to ease your first “other family” holiday experience such as dressing up, bringing a gift, being aware of any differences in cultural or religious customs, being up to date on family interests and ventures, and just being yourself. Armed with this knowledge, you can fully engage in positive conversation with family members, and avoid any accidental slights or insults.
Another practical suggestion for couples facing one another’s family holiday gatherings is to come up with a few signals to alert one another to a problem. A wink, or a hand signal can be used to let the other know you would like to leave or change the direction of the conversation. To use the infamous Charles Dickens quote from A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Holidays can sometimes seem this way so it is up to you to prepare for any potential problems to better insure that your holiday memories are the best of times.