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Seasons greetings everyone!

This is the time of year that can put a lot of stress on relationships…your marriage, in-laws, family and friends, etc.

Here are 5 tips that I hope will help you have a wonderful holiday this year:

1. Set realistic expectations. With your partner, discuss and assess your expectations for the holidays. Many couples have different goals and and feelings about this time of the year. It often comes down to one partner loving Christmas and the other hating it. Or perhaps one partner wants more spirituality and less consumerism while the other loves to splurge with extravagant gifts and celebration. As I’ve discussed before, the key is to avoid making unilateral decisions and plans. If your expectations vary greatly, then before you make any plans, make sure that you negotiate with the common goal of “meeting in the middle.” In other words, brainstorm and come up with joint decisions that work for both of you. The definition I use for a good negotiation is one where the agreement or solution stings both people a just a little bit. 

2. Stay connected. Take time for each other and don’t let the busyness of the season sap all of your energy so that you have nothing left for each other. A wonderful and easy way to stay connected is by using the Daily Check In. It only takes a few minutes, yet it can make a huge difference. Also, plan some special time just for the two of you with no family or friends. I always recommend regular dates as a surefire and fun way to rekindle your couple bond and friendship.

3. Let go of guilt. Focus on making this time of the year meaningful and authentic for you and your family. Many of us get caught up in obligatory gift buying and activities. Only you can make the holidays meaningful and the best way to do that is by being true to yourself. Even if you don’t like Christmas, find creative ways to enjoy it. Historically, I’ve tended to be a “grinch” but this year I’m determined to see it with new eyes. I’m focusing on being grateful for all of my blessing this year, especially my family and friends. As I get older, I’m more in touch with how lucky we are to be alive and live in such a beautiful country. Remember, our holiday issues are truly “first world problems.”

4. Give the gift of listening. Listening is much more difficult than speaking. It takes a lot more concentration and requires that you focus on your partner rather than yourself. It means setting aside your needs and wishes and making your partner’s feelings and concerns just as important as your own. It’s called love. When you truly listen, you’re expressing love. Talking is easy and that’s what most of us tend to do when we’re dealing with issues and problems. Under stress we often focus on fixing problems and issues rather than trying to understanding them. Without understanding and empathy, issues often turn into conflict. As Stephen Covey is famous for saying, seek first to understand, then to be understood.

5. Consider giving your relationship the gift of a pre-holiday “tune-up” session. If you’ve got some simmering unresolved issues with your spouse or even if you’re just feeling disconnected, nothing beats holiday stress for igniting relationship conflict.  I know you’re probably saying, ‘I don’t have time!’ but clearing the air before the holidays can prevent conflict and help ensure that you make the most of this very special time of the year. Call me at 403-237-7501 or email me at sig@sigtaylor.com to set up an appointment.

As always, I invite your comments and feedback…

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!