Thank you AskMen for the feature!
While summer might feel like the busiest season for couples — weddings, vacations and more! — the holiday season can be the most stressful time. Depending on how long you’ve been together, you’re suddenly faced with a lot of decisions together. From if you’re ready to take the next step and meet each other’s families to how you’ll split the time between your office party and hers — the ‘happiest’ time of the year can make or break your relationship.
“Each partner already has a full plate with events, but now add to the mix: too little time, too little sleep,” relationship expert and author Pam Evans says. “From year-end deadlines at work, financial pressure, the company party your partner drags you to, social obligations with family (whether in-laws or outlaws!), friends and colleagues, to possibly travel to a holiday destination. It’s a lot.”
These signs, straight from experts, tell you if you’re relationship has what it takes to make it from Thanksgiving to New Year’s… and still be in love:
Sign #1: You Aren't Willing To Compromise
A big part of the holiday season will be saying ‘no’ to the events you simply don’t have to. Another key element is definitely compromise: You can make some of her events, but you might have to skip a few of your own, and vice versa. If neither of you are willing to let go of control, then you’ll end up fighting each week about your plans.
“If one or both partners are guilty of consistent finger-pointing, nagging or using power manipulation tactics, you’re definitely in the danger zone,” Evans says. “If one partner focuses 100% of his or her time on getting their own needs met, without consideration or respect for what is good for the other partner, this type of behavior will eventually wear away whatever luster may have existed when the relationship was new.”
Experts advise to come together as a couple — preferably over some wine or booze — and list everything that you both have been invited to. Leave no detail out — even include shopping time for those you care about. Then you can go through each and figure out which ones you want to attend together, which ones you can fly solo at and which ones you both want to skip. Especially in the early stages of your relationship — less than a year of dating — it’s important to be open to your first holiday season with new traditions.
Sign #2: You Can’t Save Face In Front Of Family
If the stress of the holidays is causing so much stress between you that you can’t come together as a couple in front of your family members — it’s going to be a really awkward holidays. Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, co-authors of Designer Relationships, say it’s a bad sign when you’re disgruntled to the point of not being able to rectify the situation. “Being disrespectful to one another at a family gathering can be another scary sign,” they say. “Losing face among loved ones is a form of public humiliation and can be horribly undermining. If it’s a pattern that repeats itself, it’s a strong indication that there are deeper problems.”
If you see that your relationship is breaking at the seams, it might be time to have a tough conversation together to see if you’d like to take some space to spend the holidays with your respective families. While it’s not a great foreshadowing to your relationship, it may be the only thing that saves it.
Sign #3: You Can’t Make It Through A Holiday Movie Without Arguing
While it may feel frantic at the holiday season, one of the best parts of being in a relationship is having a safe haven where you can rest, relax and recharge. If sitting together on the couch to watch a holiday special movie turns into another fight about something, you might be in trouble. Personal development coach and author, Peggy Sealfron says: “If every decision you make whether it’s about what time to have dinner or what movie to see becomes a debate, you’re entering a no-relationship zone. Cooperation, understanding and friendship are the keys to a sustainable partnership. It shouldn’t be a battleground.”
If you really want to save your love and make it work, suggest you take a break from the holiday chaos and do something that you’ve always enjoyed together. Maybe it’s going to your favorite bar or a long drive on the parkway — whatever it is, use that time to get back to where you started and reestablish the reasons you choose each other to begin with.
Sign #4: You’re Not Having Sex
Let’s face it — if you’re upset or stressed about nearly anything, a great orgasm will make you feel better pretty quickly. If you can’t find a common ground in the bedroom, it’s going to be a long winter. “If you’re feeling rejected and neither of you can even talk about your likes and dislikes to at least cultivate an emotional intimacy, your couplehood is doomed,” Sealfron says. “Communication is an important factor in order to encourage desire.”
To encourage more sex that’ll bring you closer together, you might want to make some romantic gestures and do things that’ll really get her in the mood.
“Many couples become absorbed in meeting all the other demands that are placed on them during what should be a joyous and festive time, rather than paying attention to what is really important…this special time to truly enjoy their relationship,” Evans says. “ Step out of the frenzy and share some intimate time as a couple which will help you both get through the holidays.”