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Your festive season relationship survival guide

25 December 2016, 06:04

The holiday season can stress out the best of us. Dorothy Black shares her game plan to keep the love connection strong no matter what.

‘Darling’, I said, ‘we have to talk.’

Mr T saw the pen, the five coloured markers and the diary in my hands. He narrowed his eyes and put down his book. ‘Yeeeeeees?’

I took a deep breath and started: ‘It’s the end of the year and we need to plan The Holidays and Christmas Eve and Christmas and New Years and presents and I think we should start our own traditions because life and engaged and home and dogs and future and–’ I ran out of air. He stared.

‘Basically,’ I said after I’d caught my breath, ‘I need a game plan.’

This time of year can be a real love-vibes killer and my new relationship needed new ground rules to avoid The Dark Side of merriment. This is what we came up with…

First, we drew up a list of everything we wanted to do, either together or separately. We don’t have kids, don’t have a big extended family, and we both ‘do’ Christmas, so that uncomplicated a lot of issues.

But it means that no matter where we are or how many people in the family, neither of us will feel like we’ve missed out on quality time together or that we sacrificed things we wanted to do.

Also read: Single over the silly season?

It also covered what to do with the ‘big days’, like Christmas and New Year’s. A lot of this stuff – like what a holiday means and which days are important – is usually taken for granted, so people don’t talk about it.

But if you’re expected to attend family events, celebrate days you’re not into, or ‘have fun’ in ways that don’t relax you, you could end up feeling powerless and angry. Which is kak way to spend your time off. Best to talk everything through.

Next, we committed to being on the same team. We aim for this anyway, but the holiday madness can strain any couple. Especially when you’re hangry and stuck in traffic or family drama is running high.

Luckily, we don’t have problematic family members or friends, but I’ve heard enough hell stories of friend or family being rude and unwelcoming towards partners.

Plan ahead for this, either by calling out abusive behaviour or choosing to stay away from it - even if the person dishing it out is your mom or bestie. Don’t expect your partner to just put up with being treated badly.

We’ve also decided to not sweat the small stuff. It’s a platitude, but the holidays can get unhappily stressful, and it’s important to not let niggles snowball into avalanches.

To find that pause moment just before you lose your shit, try ‘HALT’. It’s an acronym for ‘hungry, angry, lonely, tired’ – all the emotions that leave us feeling vulnerable and prone to snappiness. The next time the pressure is on, stop and evaluate if you’re HALTing.

So, that’s our game plan for surviving the holidays. Well, that and plenty of water. Did you know dehydration can up your anxiety? True story.

Happy holidays.

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- News24

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