Sharing the Holidays With Your Significant Other

image for holiday stress articleMany people feel the pressure of the holidays. Finding the time to visit with loved ones and spending more money than you expected on gifts can cause a lot of distress. You may feel even more strain if you are trying to make plans that involve your significant other.

But, there are strategies that the two of you can use to reduce holiday stress—whether you are traveling or staying home this season.

Discuss Expectations

This is an important aspect of enjoying your holidays. Dr. Susan Forbes, a clinical psychologist explains, "We may not admit it to ourselves, but everyone has a set of expectations about the holiday season. For some folks, gifts are very important. Other people value family time and catching up with old friends." She adds, "Be sure to tell your significant other what you want out of the holiday…"

Be Clear About Gifts

It is important to be upfront about how you wish to celebrate the holiday season, including whether or not you want to exchange gifts. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you may not be able to buy many gifts. Keep in mind that the holidays are not about material things. Focus on what the holidays mean to you.

Create a Tradition

Have a holiday dinner together, address holiday greetings, or cut firewood and cozy up to a roaring fire. The goal is to establish a tradition that is part of your special time together. Be creative or pull some ideas from books on historic holiday traditions. The tradition does not have to be expensive or complicated. Some of the most joyful events come from taking part in simple pleasures.


If your significant other wants to spend the holidays on the opposite coast with the folks, try to negotiate some intimate time for the two of you. Have a trim-the-tree party or exchange gifts together at your home.

Go on a Date

Something else that you can do is plan a date. This will give you some time to enjoy the peace of the season. A great place to find serenity is a bookstore that also contains a café. Hold hands, sit in overstuffed chairs, have a cup of cappuccino, and read a good book.

Practice Acceptance

If you are spending time with your significant other's family, remember the reason why—because you love her and her family is important to her. Accepting other people as they are can go a long way in creating good relationships. And you may even find that you have a lot in common with some of the family members.

Have a Back-up Plan

If you are traveling during the holidays, create an alternate plan in case plans fall through. This may mean buying airline tickets that are easily changed, without a fee or penalty.

Find Some Alone Time

Finding some alone time for yourself is crucial during the holiday season. This means that you spend time doing something that is important and valuable to you. The key is to not feel guilty about needing this space for yourself. You will feel rejuvenated and stress-free after you treat yourself to some time alone, which makes you a better partner.

Share the Wealth

Finally, do not forget to share this article with your significant other. The ideas here are bound to rub off on each of you!


Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health


Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association


Survey identifies top holiday stressors, who's most stressed. Mental Health America. Available at: http://www.mentalh.... Published December 2006. Accessed June 9, 2008.

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