Denman Gutter Masthead
happy christmas couple feature

Christmas-proof your relationship

Rose Headley-Krukerink

Relationships, especially the one with your partner, usually have their ups and downs like the Canberra hills.

You find yourself getting worked up about ‘the other’ not doing this or that, and you’re increasingly nagging about it. It affects your self-image.

As we make a sharp turn into the silly season of late Christmas parties, the stress of hosting gatherings at your house, dipping into savings to buy gifts and working later to get everything done before the Christmas shut down period, it’s likely fuses will get shorter and down time will be less relaxed.

Stress at work, demanding in-laws, and parenthood are likely suspects to tip the scale and before you know it you’re snapping over mismatched tupperware lids.

If you want to proactively pursue balance in your relationship, then here are five practical tips that might help you out.

Me time

Before you have the energy to be all ‘lovey dovey’ towards your partner, you might want to reconsider your weekly calendar, especially at this time of year. Do you really have to say yes to four different Christmas catch ups with the same circle of friends? Will that cocktail function really take up your whole night?

With a bit of creative tailoring you can commit to Christmas events without sacrificing a potential date night. Be the first one to rock up to an event (thus making you golden in the eyes of the host) and you can be the first to leave. These days, arriving at 6pm and leaving by 7.30pm will give you almost an hour of twilight, perfect for a quiet walk around the block or just a glass of wine outside with your partner while you both debrief the day.

Don’t forget the importance of putting yourself first during this season. How much time is scheduled to have a one-on-one coffee with a friend? To read a book? To go bungee jumping or knitting?

Be proactive about your scheduling; do whatever makes you feel good, and does not necessarily involve your partner.

Often me-time boosts energy and makes you feel more positive. It will inevitably affect all those around you, including your partner. It might help to schedule set moments during the week (even if it’s just 30 minutes) just for ‘Me’.

Sleep!

Another energy booster. A very obvious one, but let’s put it another way: did you know that a structural shortage of sleep is an important cause for depression? So turn off Netflix an hour early once in a while, and turn in – find out what it does for you.

Be proactive about your sleep now the season is changing. Invest in a quiet bedroom fan or clean your reverse cycle of dust and build up before you need to use them. Double check for tears in your fly screens on windows and doors so you can keep windows open when you’re sleeping and locate and wash your summer pyjamas so you’re completely ready for those hot summer nights before they hit.

Also remember that just because it’s not pitch black at 9.30pm, doesn’t make it a silly time to turn in if you’re fatigued.

These might seem like small things now, but they might make a huge difference to your (and your partner’s) quality of sleep as we head into December.

Acknowledge

Now that we’re all ‘rebooted’ by our ‘me time’ and ‘early nights’, we’re ready to focus on our partner.

I have noticed that it puts a smile on my partner’s face every time I tell him ‘thanks you’ for something, even if it’s as simple as taking out the garbage, and it helps me to put some of his (in my eyes) slackness into perspective. I catch myself thinking; ‘why nag about this if he already does so many other helpful things’?! Just give it a try! “Thank you!”

With so many extra little things to do during the silly season (purchase budget friendly gifts for obscure relatives, pick up ice on the way home from work, clean the BBQ, water the Christmas tree, coordinate lifts from office EOY parties) it’s easy to stop focusing on the positives and start focusing on the negatives, the things they forget to do.

Try and instead build up a list of things your partner has done for you recently every time you feel like getting grumpy at something they haven’t done. Perhaps the memory of that unexpected paper run or cup of tea in bed will put into perspective the fact that they didn’t remember the right type of hummus at the supermarket.

Us-time

Spending time as a couple is so easily neglected during festive periods. Being tired is a frequently heard excuse for not going out together. Well, then maybe start with a bit more me-time and sleep to boost your energy.

For those who have children: if you can’t find a sitter in the evening, you might want to consider creative alternatives. Like dropping them off for a playdate and going for lunch together. Perhaps you can buddy up with someone to whom you can return the favour?

Find ways to spend Christmas shopping that isn’t tedious, such as making a game out of navigating the packed mall or sharing a pot of tea as you browse gift guides online.

While it’s tempting to divide and conquer everything over the Christmas period, instead actively choose to spend time together, not apart.

Joke around

I think one of the reasons my husband and I are together is because we enjoy each other’s lame sense of humour. It can vary from me calling him ‘Big Boss’ (the character in Minions who usually goes down by their hand) and serving him herbal tea (which he hates) if he says “any tea is good”, to sending him short stupid text messages that don’t include requests of any sort.

Bring a silliest element of the silly season into your relationship, such as hilarious family Christmas cards, mistletoe in unexpected places, pre-Christmas gifts of ridiculous antlers or tacky novelty boxers that they must wear or even your own, adult, advent calendars.

Have a bit of fun, and it will make the (previously) annoying stuff a lot easier to digest!

Rose Headley is the founder of Headley Couples Mediation CanberraImage of ‘Happy young couple with Christmas presents…‘ via Shutterstock

Denman Gutter Leaderboard