Tips for Holiday-Stress-Proofing Your SO Relationship

Couple quarreling on sofa in christmas dayThe holidays are a time of wonder, cheer, giving — some would even say magic. But you know what else the holiday season is full of? Stress. Lots and lots of stress. Sure, I may be pessimistic about “the most wonderful time of year” but there’s no denying that in addition to gifts and good times, tensions fun high when you feel the pressure to buy the perfect presents and be the hostess with mostess. Throw in time constraints and a strained budget and you’ve got the recipe for disaster.

Considering all that, it should come as no surprise that the holidays can sometimes be a rough time for couples. Just think about it — you’re both stressed to the max, likely have little time to spend together thanks to a packed social calendar, maybe facing a little (or a lot) of family drama, and slowing realizing that money is quickly disappearing from your bank accounts. I don’t know about you and your SO, but any one these things could quickly have me and my partner starring in a Grinch vs. Mr. Scrooge Holiday Showdown.

So, let’s talk about what you and your partner can do to make sure the word “chilly” only applies to the outdoor temps this season, shall we?


You know the phrase “communication is key”? Good, because it’s one the truest bits of wisdom ever written. To head things off early, communicate with your partner before the holiday season gets into full swing. Talk about your expectations, what you need from each other, and your feelings. Which parties will you attend? Who will tackle which tasks? Whose family will you visit and when? How much will you spend on each other this year? Will you buy gifts together or separately for friends and family? Talk about all those things now and develop a plan to get through the holidays without bickering and fighting over every little decision. Then, once the holidays begin, continue to set aside time to communicate your thoughts and feelings. Your partner can’t read your mind and your can’t read your partner’s either — so talk, talk, talk it out.

Be Ready to Compromise

Communication may be the key to success, but it’s difficult to get anywhere if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices and compromise with your SO. It may be as small as decorating the tree with superheroes this year or as big as skipping your favorite holiday party in lieu of a family event important to your partner, but the concessions you make for your partner’s happiness will make it so much easier to get through the stress of the season. But remember, it’s all about give and take. Don’t take too much and don’t give too much — equality and fairness is what it’s all about, friends.

Half length of young handsome caucasian man and woman coupleShow Your Appreciation

When you and your partner are stressed like crazy, it’s the little acts that show your appreciation that make a huge impact. If your SO has had a long week of holiday mania, offer a back rub or take on a few extra tasks to help lesson his or her load. At the end of the day, showing that you care about each other and the pressure you’re both under will help ease tensions and bring it back to what’s most important.

Make Time for Each Other

In between all that holiday prep and parties, make sure to set aside time to just be together. Whether it’s an hour over breakfast or a few minutes to stop and snuggle between a present-wrapping marathon, these moments will likely ease tension. Plus, the holidays are supposed to be about spending quality time with those you love. Don’t forget to make memories — they’re way more important than hosting the best ugly sweater party or having the best holiday decorations on the block.

Remember You’re a Team

TwoWhen your SO’s great aunt is getting on your nerves, when you’re frustrated that your partner hasn’t put up the lights on the tree just yet, when you’re grumpy that nobody appreciated that amazing pumpkin pie you made, it’s important to remember that your significant other isn’t your enemy. It’s easy to blame him or her for whatever is bothering you, but it’s important to remember to step back and realize that you’re a team. There will be times when your family might bother your SO and he or she might feel that you aren’t appreciating his/her efforts, too. Nobody is perfect (and no family is without flaws), but your partner should never be the source where you direct your anger or frustration this holiday season. If you feel your temper flaring, take a step back to discuss your feelings with your partner without blame or accusation. Talk through actions you can take together, develop a plan, and move forward having each other’s backs.

What strategies have worked for your and your partner when holiday stress hits? Share your sage advice below!

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Audra is a recent college graduate and an aspiring writer based in her home state of Georgia. She’s a lover of the sweetest Southern tea, warm weather, and decorating with lots of color, DIY projects, and shabby chic pieces. Her apartment living journey is still young, so she’s busy navigating the ups and downs and learning along the way. For more from Audra, follow her on Pinterest or check out her website

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