Well folks, we’re halfway through December, which means one thing – ‘tis the season to be jolly! Of course, life is hard, and we may have had our share of troubles throughout the year, but the holidays are a time when we open up our hearts to hope and happiness. That’s the magic of the Christmas holiday- it brings about a change in perspective. An important area we often reflect upon is that of our relationships, and this season is the perfect opportunity to think about the things that the Christmas holiday teaches us about relationships. I’ve decided to put forward a list of 5 things that Christmas teaches us about relationships, but are actually relevant and good to keep in mind all year round.
1. Happiness is contagious
Don’t you always notice a change in the air around the end of November or the start of December? Yes, that’s the festive buzz permeating the air around you and slowly penetrating your thoughts. However bad your morning has been, the sight of stores all decked up in colorful trees and bright wreaths immediately brings a certain cheer to your day. And that contagiousness is the most evident in a relationship – when you’re in a crappy mood all the time, it’s highly likely that the environment in your relationship is largely negative. Being upbeat and cheerful changes the atmosphere completely and is more conducive to a loving, healthy relationship. When you’re happy by yourself, it’s extremely hard for your partner to stay grouchy for long!
2. Saying ‘thanks’ is always good
The concept of gratitude is something that is heavily stressed upon during the final months of the year, starting with Thanksgiving and going on throughout Christmas. During this season, we are surrounded by reminders of how we should be thankful for all the blessings we have in our life. Experts suggest that gratitude plays a huge role in relationships too, increasing relationship satisfaction for both partners. So take a leaf out of holiday gratitude lessons and include them in your life too. Being appreciative of your partner increases positive feelings for both of you!
3. Don’t leave things to the last minute
Crazy, last-minute Christmas shopping and preparations are a reality, and as anyone who’s witnessed it will attest – it’s like being in a madhouse! Timing is crucial at Christmas, whether it’s shopping, sending out invitations, ensuring others get their gifts in time or putting the kids to bed before Santa arrives! But besides Christmas, timing, and/or time, is extremely important in relationships as well. Don’t let resentments simmer for so long that they finally explode; talk it out early on, so you can resolve things much more calmly. And most importantly, never take anything for granted; tell your partner you love them – today. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so make the most of the here and the now.
4. Unrealistic expectations spell disaster
One reason that experts attribute towards the high rate of breakups during Christmas and Valentine’s Day is the burden of unmet expectations. Men, especially, claim to go through a period of extreme stress, simply deciding what to get their partners! In any situation, having unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster, but never more so than in a relationship. We can’t control circumstances or a person’s behavior, so having expectations regarding either of these can only result in feeling disillusioned while the other person feels like whatever they do is not enough.
5. A little mystery adds a lot of fun
Remember how much fun it was as a child to open up all those brightly wrapped presents? Yes, I agree, it’s still fun! Christmas and relationships – both thrive on a certain element of mystery, and it adds a wonderful dimension to our lives. When you’ve been together for a while, the initial passion is sure to wear off, and that’s when some mystery can keep that spark alive. While it’s unrealistic to expect a relationship to be in a constant state of passionate fire, it is important to have some scope for excitement. So be generous with your presents, but be sure to leave some gifts under wraps!
So, this Christmas holiday season, as you hang colored lights, decorate your tree, and sip eggnog, don’t forget to think deeper behind all these little traditions. Resolve to keep the spirit of the holidays alive throughout the year – stay happy, have faith, and be nice (okay, maybe just a teensy bit naughty too!). If you’re in a happy relationship, express gratitude for the great partner you have; if you’re not so happy, decide to improve your relationship or make a change by scheduling an appointment with us. If you find yourself single on Christmas, enjoy the holidays by yourself and trust that the right person will come along when the time is right. It’s a magical time and who knows, Santa may just have a wonderful surprise for you!
Maigen Pham, MS, LPC-Intern