The jury may be out on the existence of Santa Claus, but the spike in breakups over the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day is very real indeed. The holidays have devolved into several weeks of consumerism, selfishness and greed, which can create a toxic cocktail of stress challenging even the strongest of relationships. The good thing is, we’re here to help. Check out these five tips that will help keep your love life under the mistletoe, not going under.
Don’t avoid small fights—work through them
As the stress mounts, you know it’s almost a certainty that you will have a few fights on your hands—but don’t make yourself scarce when you see the warning signs. The key is working through the little fights as quickly as possible, because unresolved tensions can snowball into an explosive “Remember when you…” melee of words. Resolving these differences immediately turns a fight into more of a methodical discussion by cutting out the time that your raw emotions require to make you unpredictable and illogical. Strengthening this kind of communication and conflict resolution will also help in the long run, saving the real arguments for episodes that deserve them.
Know how to give each other support
You’ll both rely on each other for support, which can include providing a safe environment for venting your frustrations when the in-laws suddenly invite themselves over. However, it’s important to know when to put aside the temptation to rant about your own feelings of doom and gloom and listen to hers instead. If both of you insist on letting the other know how poorly things are going for you, you will feed into each others’ negativity and only feel worse once you’re done. A better course of action is keeping a stiff upper lip—even if you’re going crazy inside—and waiting your turn. However, if things ever get too one-sided, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship.
Don’t put a price tag on your love
Remember: “Love is to give and expect nothing in return.” This holds especially true for the holidays, when the expectation of an expensive gift or the pressure to give the right gift can make or break relationships. One of the key pieces of relationship advice we give guys is to avoid becoming outcome dependent, so this is no different. Don’t spend more than you’re willing to part with, and don’t be bummed if your partner opts for giving you something worth less money, but from the heart. Tempering your expectations can reduce resentment down the road, and if you absolutely want something specific for the holidays—ask! Likewise, don’t think that you have to break the bank to make a statement. Some of the most romantic gestures are completely free (but you should still drop a few bills).
Don’t take things personally
If you’re in a committed relationship, you know better than to think that every little hiccup means it’s over. There will be many hiccups this season, don’t you worry, so don’t take it personally if your loved one snaps at you for no perceivable reason—that’s the stress talking. One of the quickest ways to feel better yourself is by doing something nice, so rather than lashing back at them, give them a hug, an “I love you” and a hot mug of cocoa.
Don’t sweat being single
You might not have a sweetheart to hold hands with on the ice rink or exchange gifts with, but even during the holidays when you might feel the loneliest, be sure never to define yourself by your relationship status. The period just before the new year is a time of self-reflection, and you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to get in touch with who you are and what you want. You should also take the time to connect with your friends and family—remember, you’re never truly alone.