Gill O’Connell of Relationship Counselling Highland offers some sound advice on getting through the festive season.
The story goes: Christmas is about joy, harmony and love. The reality is, though, that it is hard for even the most relaxed people to get through to Boxing Day without some crisis in their family or relationship. When there is added pressure from any difficulties between couples or families, the problems can overwhelm what should be one of the happiest occasions of the year.
“Watching everyone else throw themselves into the preparations – the shopping, the planning, the general excitement – can be an unbearable strain”, explains Gill. She suggests that the following tips may help avoid meltdown this Christmas:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for space and time for yourself – you will be giving out a lot and will need time to recoup.
- Make a point of ensuring that your partner is not neglected if you are the host to your family over the festive period – feelings of exclusion are easily activated at times of stress.
- Try and schedule in time for you and your partner just to be on your own, even if for short periods – so that misunderstandings and resentments don’t build up.
- If it is possible to make an agreement about spending limits before the real celebrations start, try and do this and stick to it!
- Remember that alcohol releases inhibitions and identify the triggers that might make you say more than you mean.
- Listen to your body and ask for what you need.
- Ensure you have a fun, intimate time together and agree to make sure your sexual relationships doesn’t get lost in all the preparation and excitement.
- Take time to recognise where there are problems between you and work at managing them. You need to be open and honest and talk to each other about what you are feeling. Try to be aware of what your partner likes or dislikes.
- Couples could give each other a Christmas present of a date (it could even be a sexual date – the anticipation would add to the pleasure).
- Finally: don’t strive for perfection – you will only fail. Instead try to be ‘good enough’. (Anyway, people can’t stand perfectionists!).