Ah, the holidays. Such a magical, romantic time. Just think - you and your sweetie will decorate the tree, share a romantic sleigh ride in the snow, and go hand-in-hand carolling through your neighbourhood drinking hot cocoa... (Cue the scratching record on the record player right about now...)
If your most romantic holiday moments consist of getting groped by the jerky mail room guy at your annual office party, getting escorted out of Target by a teenage security guard for making a scene in the store, or getting hit on by the creepy guy at the Christmas Tree lot as he ties your fake blue tree to the top of your car, then you need some serious help!
The holidays are commonly a painful time in our love lives, whether you're single or attached. Why? A pesky little thing called "expectations"... You know - you're hoping for something shiny under the tree yet all you get is a new blender (fill in any "practical" item with a cord attached here).
Or you're dreaming of meeting "the one" by New Year's, and yet there you are by yourself in front of the TV as the clock strikes 12 with no one to kiss. And worst of all is your family pressure - if your Uncle Morrie asks you one more time, "So, why are you still single?" or "When are you two gonna have a baby?" you'll scream...
If any of this is making you want to skip the season all together, then remember: It may just be that your guy (and friends and family) has NO IDEA what your expectations are. To make matters worse, he has a BUNCH of their own "unspoken" ideas of how things SHOULD and WILL go with YOU! Here's why - every relationship is actually TWO relationships.
The one you're having and the one the other person is having. Why? Because we all have different points of view, assumptions, perspectives, needs, and desires. And your happiness with a partner depends upon how "well" your partner and your relationship with them "jives" with all of those things in you. And their happiness with you depends upon how "well" YOU and your relationship "jives" with all of those things in them. And there's no time quite like the holidays for this oh-so-stressful stuff to come up.
- Your expectations around:
- what gifts you HOPE they give you
- if they're taking you home for their family festivities
- or if they're coming to yours
- if they'll be just THRILLED with the gifts you get them
- if they'll take you to their office party or go to yours
- if they'll join in your religious traditions
- if they'll help decorate your tree
- if they'll hang your lights
- if they'll visit your friends and family,
- or be too busy with their own...
...are just a few of the potential LAND MINES the two of you could step on in the coming days that could blow your love to smitherenes. (Don't get me started about the year my hubby got me microwavable slippers for Christmas, with an oh-so-sexy flannel nightgown that was about five sizes too big.
The problem? We didn't have a microwave and I sleep in "the altogether" which I thought he appreciated. He was as hurt by my disappointed reaction as I was by his "you remind me of my grandmother" gifts. Yikes. That was a rough year.) There's a way to get through the holidays and have your relationship not only survive but thrive. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind now and all year long...
TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS
This sounds obvious, but most people don't do this. Whether you're in a brand-new relationship or one that's been going on for years, remember that your partner isn't a mind reader, and they need to know what you're thinking. The holidays may be REALLY important to you, but not to him. Or vice verse. So you may take something they do personally (like their lack of enthusiasm over gift giving or going to your favourite midnight Mass) when it has nothing to do with how they feel about you, but instead is a reflection of how they feel about this time of year...
So if something is REALLY important to you, let them know. And ask them how they feel about it. Don't decide that you know what it means... It may not mean what you're thinking at all! Speaking of gift giving, if you're dreaming of finding something really special in your stocking on Christmas morning, it's a good idea to ask what REALLY special thing THEY'D like. Letting them know you want to get them something GREAT is a "heads up" that they should perhaps get you something really great, too.
If they say, "Oh - PLEASE don't do anything big... I don't need anything..." they may just mean it. Or they may be being coy. Or they may feel awkward that you want to do something big for them before they're ready to do something big for you. If you end up getting them something that's a big deal, it may feel like PRESSURE. If they say not to, I'd say believe them.
On the flip side, if this is a "low budget" year for you, it's a good idea to tell your sweetie that you're NOT expecting anything super exciting under the tree, and that you're not able to give them anything "over the top," either. You can suggest that you both make each other something (baked goods, knitted socks, gift certificates for back rubs) and that you're just happy to be together. (Ironically, that's just the kind of conversation that will send a lover to the nearest jewellery store or Apple store where they'll cash out the last of their stock portfolio to buy you something AH-MAZING.)
When it comes to visiting family, again I suggest you communicate, and that you don't "make up meanings" to things. He may be going home to "dear old mom" and taking his best friend instead of you because "dear old mom" embarrasses him and he doesn't want to scare you away! (So he didn't invite you because of how much you mean to him - not because he doesn't care about you! Same goes for his office party...)
If she doesn't want to meet your family or friends it may be because she's feeling uncomfortable or insecure about something that has nothing to do with you but you won't know unless you ask. (I took my hubby home one year for Father's Day. His father had died the year before, so instead of being upbeat and fun with my dad, he was depressed and hiding in our room...
My dad actually got his feelings hurt until I asked Bill what was going on. That's right - the EXPECTATIONS of the people around your relationship can cause land mines, too! Fun, fun.) If you ARE going home for the holidays together (to your family or theirs - or both!) talk about what you each expect with that. Does the family have traditions that you should know about? Or ISSUES you should know about? Are they health fanatics and you were going to bring them a bunch of homemade baked goods they won't eat? (Or are YOU a super health fanatic or animal advocate and so need to make your own "tofurkey" with steamed kale for Christmas dinner?
Make sure everyone knows that up front, and please try to not lecture them on the horrors of factory farming, and the danger of high-fat foods as they eat the real thing.) Are they super religious and you're not? (Will it really be so bad going to that candlelight Christmas Eve ceremony? It's mostly music...) Does YOUR family have traditions or issues they should know about? Be sure to warn them!
HOW TO TALK ABOUT TOUGH TOPICS - ALL YEAR LONG...
If you don't know how to talk about tough topics with a romantic partner, here are some tips...
- Make an appointment. Tell them what you want to discuss and ask if they're available for that. Don't "ambush" and launch into it without warning. If they aren't ready, wait until they are. (You'll be so glad you did!)
- Have a good attitude. Believe it or not, most people (yes, even men!) are happy and willing to communicate, it's just that so often we wait until we're really UPSET about a subject to bring it up. So it's not the issue that puts your lover off, it's your negative EMOTIONS. So have good ones when you bring up these things, or wait until you're in a better mood.
- Let your sweetheart know that you're thinking "we" and not "me." Strive to find solutions that will make you both happy. The more they think you care about them and their feelings on the issue at hand, the more they'll want to please you. If, on the other hand, they feel you're trying to "win" they'll fight you even if they'd otherwise give you what you're asking for.
If you do these simple things, it's my official prediction that this holiday season is one of the best ever... and even Uncle Morrie will be impressed. May God and His planets and stars shower you with love - all season long!
Hi, I'm Carol Allen, relationship coach and Vedic astrologer and author of 'Love Is In The Stars.' For almost two decades now I've been helping women be successful in love, and now you can get my advice at absolutely no cost in my love and Vedic astrology newsletter.
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