The holidays are an exciting time to share with your partner. There’s a lot of eating, gifting, bonding, reminiscing, and messages of joy. The holidays can also bring plenty of stress as we’ve been programmed to meet many expectations. Handling the holiday stress alone is a heavy enough task; doing it as a couple can feel like the ultimate test. For help with surviving the holidays as a couple, we can provide couples therapy in Los Angeles.
There are many circumstances that can contribute to your holiday stress. Whether it’s the first time meeting your partner’s family or the tenth holiday season shared with each other’s family, having family members together can be triggering. For some people, there may be pressure from family to have children or to quit a job to do something the family deems more appropriate. For others, members may be divided in politics and religion, causing heated arguments with regrettable remarks. Other families have alcoholic members that may make a scene and make people uncomfortable or members that dig up old memories that make people uncomfortable. And some families compare and criticize people’s accomplishments. Whatever your unique situation, it’s understandable that family can provoke you and your partner to take out negative feelings on each other.
A way to prevent or decrease conflict with your partner is to create boundaries together. For example, make a pact to “save” each other from overbearing family members or to have one another’s back if family members aggressively challenge you or your partner by taking a walk or leaving the gathering altogether. You can also agree to cap the alcoholic beverages at a certain number, or to have none, in order to potentially avoid hurtful behavior and confrontations with each other.
Money is also an intimidating factor for the holidays. If you and your partner are hosting gatherings for the holidays, there may be pressure to go all out with decorations, food, and gifts for your guests. And even if you’re not hosting, you may have been invited to family gatherings, work parties, and celebrations that require you and your partner to pitch in. Some ways to curb your stress for the holidays is by creating a strict budget and spending limit, suggesting a gift exchange rather than individual presents, shop online for better deals and asking people to bring their favorite dish so that you and your partner aren’t in charge of all the food.
Couples Therapy in Los Angeles for Holidays
Although there are steps you and your partner can take to lessen the holiday chaos, a little extra support with couples therapy can immensely help this holiday season and the ones to come. As it is, most inquiries for mental health services come after the holiday season, affirming that the holidays spike up emotional levels. Before the holidays, a couples therapist can help you and your partner understand why you have anxiety around certain topics or family members. They will help you get to the root of the issue and equip you and your partner with tactics to diffuse a situation. A therapist can also provide you and your partner with tools for coping with anger or frustration toward one another in order to prevent unnecessary quarrels. Additionally, a couples therapist can assist you and your partner in creating boundaries for the holidays, strategies to navigate them, accountability homework to prepare for the intensity of it, and even alternative therapies like yoga and art therapy to get you and your partner’s mind off the holidays.
For more information on handling the holiday stress, call Trauma and Beyond Center ® at (818) 651-0725.