It’s the most wonderful time of the year! So the song goes, but in reality this time of year is often very stressful. If you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas there are family obligations, presents to buy, and special meals to cook—leading to stress on finances and time. Some workplaces are busier at this time of year, and understaffed with employees taking holidays. If you have school-aged children, you need to find childcare or new ways to keep them entertained. On top of all this, we rarely see the sun. With so much going on it’s easy to find your relationship under stress at this time of year.
With this in mind, here are 5 suggestions to strengthen your relationship over the holidays:
1) Set aside some time for just the two of you as a couple. This could be taking a walk in the neighbourhood to enjoy the festive lights. If you have children, it might be sharing a cup of tea or hot chocolate after the kids have gone to bed. It doesn’t have to be a big time commitment, but should involve the intentional decision to spend time as a couple.
2) Share your favorite childhood memories from this time of year. If it’s hard to come up with positive memories, talk about traditions you’d like to start. Couples with children can share this conversation (and the next two) with the whole family if they wish.
3) Take time to reflect on the year. What were the highlights? The challenges? How did you change and grow over the year?
4) Plan for the year ahead. What would you like to do more of in the New Year? As a couple or family, what do you hope to be able to reflect on next year?
5) Make a commitment to continue to strengthen your relationship if you need to do more work to get the closeness you want, whether that be spending more time together, reading a book on relationships, or going to couple therapy. Couple therapists are trained to support and guide couples in working through conflicts, improving communication, and increasing emotional connection. Couples don’t need to be in dire straits to benefit from couple therapy. Therapy is an investment in your relationship.