Get your relationship holiday ready

Editor's note: This piece, by Aaron Anderson, originally appeared on his blog, The Marriage & Family Clinic. It has been reprinted here with permission.

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  • Everyone knows the holidays are stressful. There are endless parties, cooking, shopping and traveling. And that's in addition to the normal stress you have from day to day anyway. And with all the stress of the holidays weighing on you it creates stress in your relationship, too. You just don't have the same time to spend with your partner doing things you usually like to do. You're also a lot more likely to argue about old family problems that you haven't talked about since last year. But just because the holidays are stressful that doesn't mean your relationship has to be stressful.

  • Tips To Avoid Stress in Your Relationship This Holiday Season:

  • Create a calendar for both of you

  • Remember the days when people kept a calendar on the inside of a cupboard door? Well, that calendar has moved to the smartphone you carry in your pocket. But that means things you schedule in your smartphone aren't seen by your partner as easily as if they were in the cupboard. And sometimes you really do forget to tell them about important events. So instead of fighting about who forgot about the party, find a calendar and write them all down. You can get a free calendar from your insurance agent or you can share an online calendar from Google, Doodle or other websites. If you do the online option, you can even setup an e-mail reminder a couple days before that way there's no question about what's coming up.

  • Decide beforehand what parties you're going to

  • With the Holidays there are endless parties. There's your work party, your family parties, your old college roommates' party and that's not including all the parties your partner has. But there are only so many weekends before Christmas so you just can't go to all of them. Instead of deciding whether you're going to a party the night of and risking an argument, talk it over beforehand with your partner. This gives both of you a chance to discuss why it's important why you want to go and come up with other plans in case one (or both) of you don't want to go.

  • Talk about family parties

  • You can't expect your partner to get along with everyone in your family. Heck, you probably don't even get along with everyone. So don't get upset when your partner doesn't want to go to certain parties or doesn't want to talk to a certain someone. Instead of fighting about it, talk about it well in advance. Let each other know what family parties you want to go to, who will be there and how you're both going to handle it if that certain someone shows up. Remember, the party only lasts a few hours. Don't let one party cause a rift in your relationship that will last a few days.

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  • Decide what gifts to give and to who

  • What gift do you get for your mother in law? Should you both give a gift or give an individual gift? Should you get a gift for your boss? If so, how big? Instead of just assuming talk to your partner about what gifts you're going to get and for whom. Everyone's on a budget in this economy so you don't want to give a gift to someone you don't see very much that will put a pinch on a gift to someone who you see more often. And since you both have people you want to give gifts to, you don't want to overspend on a gift and make your partner have to scrimp on a gift to someone important to them.

  • Talk about gift giving with each other

  • You're not a mind reader and neither is your partner. And giving a gift to your partner can feel like a trap in a lot of ways. Did you spend too much or too little? Should you get them something they want or something they need? Instead of guessing and running the risk of striking out talk generally about gift giving. You don't have to ask specifically for what they want but you can ask general questions like, "what's our budget for gifts for each other this year?" or "if you had to choose between something you wanted or something you needed which one would you pick?"

  • The holidays are supposed to be for spending time with the ones you love and for making memories. These five tips will help you make sure that the memories you're making are happy ones, and that you're still in love after the holidays.

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Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.

Website: http://www.TheMarriageandFamilyClinic.com

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