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  • Merle Mullins

Holiday Stress Management Tips for Couples



It's no secret that the Holidays can be a stressful time for couples. There are many expectations associated with the season, from children restless with anticipation, to relatives needing accommodation. It can be easy to get lost, to feel overwhelmed and give into confrontation.

The stresses of the holidays fall particularly hard on couples with children and those hosting relatives. Financial burdens, disruptions of normal schedules, even the sudden onset of temptations including sugary foods and alcohol, can leave a couple feeling strung out, ragged and distant from one another.

If you've ever spent a long car ride to or from a holiday destination wrapped in a fuming silence with your spouse or loved one, you know exactly what the holidays can do to couples.

So here are 5 Ideas to Help You and Your Spouse Navigate the Holidays.


1. Call a Meeting


Often times holiday plans fall together on the fly, with one or the other making commitments, planning with relatives, and then informing the other via text or email.

This type of Holiday planning leads to disruption and dissatisfaction.

Instead, find a time to sit down with your spouse ahead of the Holiday season. Discuss your hopes and anxieties for the season. Talk about what would make this a special and meaningful time for the two of your personally, and then commit to those things that are most important for each of you.


2. Set a Budget


It may be easy to let one spouse do most of the shopping. Inevitably, however, the other will be surprised at the bill. To avoid post-holiday shock, it's better to connect briefly before hand and establish a budget that works for your family and circumstance. Sharing this information may be sobering, but it will give you more confidence in one another and peace of mind throughout the Holidays.


3. Schedule Time to be Just the Two of You.


With all the parties, relatives, and children you'll be attending to, it can be easy for the whole season to go by before you've really connected one on one. So plan to get away together at least once, just the two of you, for something you both enjoy.

The days right after Christmas are often perfect for this. They pass quickly, but we really have the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th. These are often quiet days at home and at work, and can be some of the sweetest and most peaceful days of the year to get away together.


Whether it be to a hotel, or for a hike if the weather is nice, or to a show. The important thing is to go together, and just the two of you.


4. Bring Each Other Your Favorite Treats


There's a lot of activity going on, and it can be easy to get caught up and forget the little things. But I'll bet your spouse has a favorite holiday treat, one you know they always go for at the store or the party table. A simple way to make them feel special and reestablish your connection is to go and get that treat for them. Greet them warmly when you do so, and you might just share a little bit of genuine holiday cheer.


5. Choose Meaningful Gifts Over Expensive Ones


We all want to shower our best friend in the whole world with diamonds and new cars, but unless we're really in a strong enough position financially, these gifts can lead to stress down the road and throughout the year. Instead, ask yourself what simple and meaningful gifts, such as a mix tape of favorite music, a return to the restaurant where you went on your first date, or tickets to do something you both enjoy but haven"'"t done in a while, can go farther to help reinforce the bond between you without breaking the bank.


I hope this has given you some good ideas to maintain your connection with your spouse throughout the busy and often stressful holiday season, and come to think of it, a lot of these ideas will be valuable reminders all year long.


If you find yourself in need of more ideas, or feeling distant, angry and frustrated with your spouse, it may be a good time to speak with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. You can schedule an appointment here on my website. I'm looking forward to speaking with you.


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Education

  • Bachelor of Social Work, 1982, Gannon University

  • Bachelor of Philosophy, 1983, Gannon University

  • Master of Social Work, 1993, Temple University

  • Post-Master, Marriage and Family Therapy, 1996, Temple University

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Nationally Certified, Duluth Model for treating men who batter women

Family man

I was married in 1981, and have lived in Harrisburg, PA, with my wife Molly and our five children since 1984. Merle enjoys the cultural and arts events available in Harrisburg, Washington D.C., and New York.

 

I also like playing racquetball, and watching sporting events with friends, especially when the Pennsylvania teams are doing well.

Work life

I have worked as a marriage, family, and addiction counselor for over 30 years, including 15 in close collaboration with churches in the Harrisburg, Hershey, and York areas. After all this time, I am more enthusiastic than ever about helping people overcome life's challenges.

Fax: (717) 963-7142

3605 Vartan Way #204A, Harrisburg, PA 17110, USA

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