Discussing how to navigate the holidays can bring up disagreements, disappointments, stress, and strain. Holidays can be contentious, even in a normal year. And, 2020 is far from normal.
With so many people feeling raw and on edge these days, approaching the subject of Holidays from a place of kindness and understanding is best. Talking openly, honestly, and thoroughly about your hopes, needs, and fears can be crucial.
So how can you do that in your relationship? By really thinking through things together and examining all angles.
Prepare yourself, and each other, for the reality that no one is likely to get everything they want in this unique year.
Here are some things to talk about to see if you can get on the same page. (Be sure to make the “page” big enough for you both!) You can even review Key #4 in our downloadable book to help with communication skills before beginning the process with your partner.
Helpful Questions to Plan for the Holidays
During a Pandemic
When planning for the holidays during the pandemic, there are several questions you should talk about together. The below examples are just that — examples. You'll likely have issues specific to you and your family.
Here are some ideas to begin your discussions:
What do you usually do that will need to be altered this year?
How do you feel about those alterations?
Are the alterations a loss to you?
Is there any silver lining in the alterations?
Other than the two of you, who do you fear will be disappointed by the changes?
Do you plan to travel?
If you do plan to travel, how do you plan to mitigate the risk?
When going over these questions, it can help to use a calendar and look back at things you did in past years. Additionally, if you attended public events in the past, you would be wise to consider whether they are even happening this year. If they are, talk about the comfort level you both have with how they are taking place.
Negotiating Holiday Wants and Needs: Focusing on the Big Picture
Most likely, you and your partner have at least some differences in what you want to do for the holidays and how comfortable you feel about specific activities. The goal of starting the conversation is to see how far apart you are. Once you've clarified your specific differences, it's time to talk about those differences.
Which things are most important to each of you?
If one of you doesn't want to do something that the other does, talk about why. Make sure you are open about specific fears you might have.
What concessions do you feel safe making to accommodate your partner's feelings and needs?
What measures might be taken to make either of you feel more comfortable?
What are the absolute no-gos?
Are there ways to get the same (or a similar) result by altering plans slightly?
For example, if either of you is afraid to fly, would it assuage fears to drive instead? What would that look like to each of you?
If you're used to having a big family get-together but your partner is uncomfortable with that, could you do a "Zoom party" instead?
Again, little about this current situation is ideal. But remind yourselves of the big picture: keeping your family safe and healthy. That way, you can go back to those holiday traditions you love when the world — and your sanity — allows.
If you're struggling with communicating and planning for the 2020 Holidays, we are here to help. Check out our Imago Relationship workshops and therapy. We also have Online Couples Therapy and Online Couples Workshops right now!Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Educational Webinars.
Connect. Transform. Thrive.
This blog post was written by Norene Gonsiewski, LCSW, and Tim Higdon MS, LPC.
Norene and Tim have co-authored a book, Rock Solid Relationship: Seven Keys to Restore Your Connection and Make Your Love Last. Check out their website too!