The holidays can be rough on everyone. Your routine is disrupted. Money is tight from travel expenses to presents. Travel itself can be extremely stressful with flight delays and cancellations, traffic jams and booked hotels. Then, there are the relatives you only see once or twice a year. Spending time with your own relatives and introducing a new partner can be fraught with embarrassing stories and heated family discussions. Then, there is meeting and spending time with your partner’s relatives.
It is like moving through a social minefield. The holidays can put an abnormal amount of stress on a relationship, especially when they are new and you and your partner are still figuring some things out. So, how can you tell if your relationship can make it through this minefield without blowing up in your face?
Your relationship will make it through the holidays if…
You Both Roll With It
Don’t resist the kookiness of your family or get upset when they embarrass you. Roll with it. Don’t take yourself so seriously. If you can absorb the slings and arrows of your family’s outrageous behavior, it will keep things light and funny rather than tense and awkward for your partner. They don’t know your family and will take their social cues from you. If you get upset, then they will get upset and possibly poison the well for years to come. If you and your family fight and show your butt to each other, it may send a message that this is the way you will act in your potential future family with your partner. If you and your family make it awkward or tense for your partner, they may decide that it isn’t the kind of family they want to be a part of. Keep things light and avoid intense topics like religion, politics and family drama.
You Embrace the Chaos
Holidays are chaotic and things will go wrong. There will be travel delays. There will be snafus and mistakes on all sides. You will forget things. Don’t let these things upset you or ruin the enjoyment you and your partner have together. If you are a giant ball of seething anger and frustration for the entire trip, then your partner may decide that you two are not compatible. Don’t let things get to you and keep your emotions in check. Don’t try to control everything. Be calm. Look on the bright side of things even when they go wrong; and they will go wrong, so prepare yourself.
You Stand Back-to-Back
Your families are going to stress you out, along with the travel and money. Don’t take out the stress of the holidays on each other. It is easy to lash out in frustration at the closest person to you precisely because of their proximity. Resist the urge. Protect each other from your family and their specific issues. If you want to survive as a couple, then you have to have each others’ backs. Be your partner’s defender if your family is too judgmental, or ritual hazing gets a little too intense. If you join in the fun and games at your partner’s expense, then you just ended your relationship. This can be a make-or-break moment. Choose wisely.
You Remember Why You Love Each Other
Sometimes, we spend the holidays with people we have been in a relationship with for just a short time. During the holidays, we get a chance to see our partners without rose-colored glasses. The family will bring up your partner’s warts and shove them in your face. How you deal with this microscopic inspection of your partner and your relationship will determine if you want to continue seeing each other after the holidays.
You Get Prepared For Lots of Questions
There will be close scrutiny of your relationship from relatives and friends. This can be a lot of strain on a new relationship. Hell, it can be a lot of strain on an old relationship. Be prepared with your responses to common questions about how you met, where do you see yourself in the future, what kind of work you do and where you went to school. At times, it will feel like an interrogation by a foreign intelligence service. They will compare notes, and if they catch you out on something, then your relationship could be doomed. Be patient and be honest.
Take it all in stride and stick together as a team. Set boundaries with your respective families and enforce them. If necessary, duck out for a few minutes, or hours, of alone time so you two can spend time away from the chaos and catch your breath.