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5 Strategies for making the holidays less stressful on your marriage

Between nagging in-laws, budget woes and too many commitments, this time of year can strain even the strongest marriage. The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and joy, but it can become too hectic if you let it. To help keep your twosome intact, we wanted to share a few tips to make sure you avoid feeling too overwhelmed.

Couple holding hands in front of Christmas tree

We asked relationship expert Dr. Jacqueline Del Rosario for some of her top realtionship tips for making the holidays easier on your marriage.

Determine your whereabouts

Sit down with your partner now to decide where you’ll be allocating your time during the holidays. Chances are you’ve already been inundated with invites so you need to figure out where you’re going, when and for how long. “This will help you and your partner determine if you’re overbooked,” Rosario says. “It will also help both of you to communicate your schedule to inquiring in-laws or friends and help you avoid over committing in the moment.”

Set a holiday budget and stick to it

If you haven’t already done so, decide what needs to be factored into your seasonal budget to avoid stress and potential conflict, Rosario says. For instance, if you’re hosting a dinner at your house, outline a budget for the event and make sure to follow it. That means if there’s only enough money to have 10 people instead of 15, you only invite 10. You could also swap out lavish decorations for creative, handmade decor or have a potluck instead of a full course dinner. Holiday budgets should also apply to gift giving. You and your partner should pre-determine who you will be giving gifts to and how much you will spend on each person.

Create your own traditions

The holidays can get so busy that it’s easy to forget they’re actually supposed to be about spending time with the people you love – not having a meltdown at the mall. The remedy: Create your own holiday traditions. “I am a big proponent of making the holidays your own,” Rosario says. “Instead of running yourself ragged going from house to house and event to event, establish a tradition in your own home.” However big or small, make sure that whatever you decide on embodies what the occasion means to you and your spouse.

Do something different

Do something out of the ordinary that brings value to the season above and beyond gifts and get-togethers. Rosario encourages couples to do something to enrich the community and their spirit during the holidays. “My family and I usually go to the soup kitchen and serve meals, but you could also try volunteering at the local pet shelter, stocking shelves at the food bank, visiting the elderly at a nursing home, mentoring a child or cleaning up a park or beach,” she says. “All of these activities can be done together, and I guarantee you’ll make unforgettable memories in the process.”

Plan, plan, plan

Planning will make the holidays a whole lot smoother for you and your partner. “Instead of running around like chickens without heads, come up with viable solutions for the activities that can sometimes be hectic,” Rosario says. For instance, don’t leave holiday shopping to the last minute. List the items you have to buy, map out the stores where they’re located and devise a plan of getting the shopping done in as little time as possible. If you have an upcoming dinner, make a list of all the ingredients and avoid the mad grocery store rush by buying the non-perishables early on. “There’s nothing that a good plan can’t handle.”

Tell us

Do you fight with your partner more during the holiday season? If so, why? Share in the comments section below!

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