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Christmas-proof Your Relationship For The Fraught Holiday Season!
It may not surprise you that more relationships break down over the Christmas and New Year period than any other time. Not only do couples face financial stress, lack of time, and extra demands, but also “deal-breaking” issues they don’t face during the year. Whose parents do you visit? How much do you spend? Whose work "do" takes priority? You also spend extra time with extended family, with copious amounts of booze thrown in to make things more volatile.
Such things test your relationship annually. To combat these think ahead so you enjoy seasonal bliss rather then a Christmas couples’ crisis. These 12 key things ensure your relationship is in top-notch form for the Christmas season:
1/ Your Special Evening
Put a cast-iron date in your diary to share a romantic evening. Ninety-nine per cent of couples complain they don’t have special time together during December. When you “disconnect” for that long it's unhealthy. No interruptions are allowed and no conversation about "issues". Instead keep it light and flirty too!
2/ Make It Family Friendly
Early on agree strategies for thorny issues like how much time you spend with each other’s families. Doing this before you’re fraught means you do it calmly and tactfully. You're less likely to snap that you "can’t bear your mother-in-law for more than a few hours" by planning now.
3/ Make Gifts Meaningful
Rather than worry about how much you spend think about the message you give through your present. Making a scrapbook of warm memories or framing a photo of your self gives a loving message. Dashing out to buy yet another jumper doesn’t. Or ask them for five fabulous little things they’d like and put them together in a Christmas stocking – such fun to open.
4/ Divide And Conquer
No one, bar the most obsessive-compulsive, enjoy Christmas chores. There’s cards to send, buying gifts for all and sundry, planning meals, table settings and decorations, etc. Some might be fun when you don't have to do them all yourself! Together make a list and divide the chores preventing rows over who's doing "more". Think logically about who’d be better at which chore. I'd never let my husband loose on the Christmas cards but he's fantastic at sorting out the decorations.
5/ Daily Dose of Love
As demands stresses increases through December take a moment each day to tell your partner you love them, appreciate them, and hope they’re "doing OK" with the festive flurry. It only takes a minute to be supportive of each other. One phone call, text or e-mail is a reminder that there's love in the eye of the storm.
6/ Festive Finances
Finance is one of the two biggest causes of rows over Christmas. Examine your budget now. Prioritise your gift list and list specific, maximum amounts you’ll spend. Stick to the Budget and don't shop at the last minute when budgets get thrown out the window because you've no time to shop wisely. Again, think in terms of meaningful rather than expensive gifts.
7/ Seven Minutes of Sensuality
People say "take five" to encapsulate a sense there's lots going on but you need a moment to rest. But that's not quite enough. It’d be a tall order to suggest giving each other half-an-hour daily of special little pleasures. Instead spend seven minutes spoiling each other. Do sensual little things like head rubs, back and shoulder massages, showering together, spoon-feeding each other supper, breakfast in bed, etc. These keep you intimately bonded when everything’s frantic.
8/ Time Is Precious
Guard your time together ferociously - and not only that special “date” marked in your diaries. This year be ruthless protecting your precious time that’ll protect your relationship, too. For example, be strict about accepting invitations. If the thought of going to your neighbour’s annual, dull drinks party gives you palpitations, politely say No. If colleagues want an extra Christmas drinks evening, simply decline.
9/ Put Your Partner First
We get precious about our needs being met in our relationship, particularly at this demanding time. But relationship research confirms if you put your partner first, at least occasionally, this is likely to be reciprocated. If they've had a hard day relieve them of one of the chores you’ve divided up. Showing good definitely increases relationship satisfaction.
10/ A Little At A Time
You've planned ahead, sorted out potential issues and said No to extra events. Now implement a "Daily Check" to ensure all the little errands and chores are getting done. Whether you check-in with each other by e-mail or phone, keep your lists handy and enjoy that satisfying feeling as you tick jobs off together.
11/ Festive Frolics
Do something out of the ordinary, fun and a bit childish! Couples that play together stay together. Festive frolics combat stress. This is different from your romantic evening. Go see a fun film like Danny DeVito’s new Christmas film Deck The Halls or slip back to childhood and enjoy a panto with a big bag of sweets. Go ice-skating or carol singing - anything light-hearted will do.
12/ Find The Real Christmas Spirit
Ultimately as a couple you can get bound up in the rush for more gifts, more excess, and having to fulfil all sorts of obligation. Or you can decide to find the real meaning of Christmas, even if not religious, and that's about cherishing each other, looking after your families, seeing your friends and generally spreading goodwill.
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Published in the Express Newspaper
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