Communicate Positively With Your Spouse During the Holidays
Whether you’re going to one or multiple family dinners, or you’re hosting this year’s holiday celebrations, they can sometimes be stressful. Some families get along really well. They never speak harsh words, or burn the rolls, or have meltdowns. Imagine that! Others predict conflict, though they long for something different.
Your family gatherings may be fun and carefree, or they might not quite be what you dreamed. Either way, the way you communicate with your spouse and your family before and during a get together can significantly impact the way you feel when you head home. Check out 10 tips below to help foster positive communication this Christmas. Then, pick two or three you’d like to put into action to help set you and your spouse, plus your families, up for success this Christmas.
1. Get on the same page ahead of time.
Talk with your spouse about who’s coming, so you can prepare, especially if there’ll be extra people you or your children don’t know well or don’t see often.
2. Tell everyone that hot topics are off limits.
If you know certain subjects are divisive amongst your family, consider tabling them for the time being.
3. Be self-aware, and teach your children to do the same.
Talk about what to do if someone says or does something hurtful. In the moment, it’s easy to forget you have a choice when it comes to how you will respond. Discuss how you know when someone is getting the best of you i.e., your heart starts beating faster, your palms sweat, or you want to cry. Knowing these signs can help you stay in control of your emotions and help you choose how to respond. By discussing this ahead of time, chances are good you’ll be better prepared and won’t feel the need to lash out.
4. Get enough rest.
Believe it or not, being rested can be a huge help when it comes to healthy communication with family members. You’ll be able to think more clearly. When you’re tired, it’s easier for people to get the best of you.
5. Guard against anticipating too much about how things are going to go.
You can make the situation worse if you’ve played scenarios over and over again in your head. It’s one thing to prepare yourself; it’s another thing to have yourself so on edge that if one minor thing is different, it affects you tremendously.
6. Bring structure to the gathering.
Having everyone “hang out” could open the door to unwelcome scenarios. However, keeping guests occupied can significantly help to keep the peace and create fun. Have graham crackers and other treats handy, so people can build gingerbread houses. Let everyone work to put together a Christmas puzzle. Or, play a game of Name That Tune: Christmas Edition. Creating a warm, welcoming, and fun atmosphere will go a long way.
7. Pay attention to others.
Make someone feel special, and set the tone for the day by showing genuine interest in things that matter to them. Compliment the dish they brought, or ask to see photos of something exciting they did recently.
8. If you think things are escalating and you don’t feel like you’re doing well, take a walk.
If getting fresh air isn’t an option, find a quiet place to breathe and calm down. Research indicates that just 20 minutes of doing something different will help you recalibrate and handle a situation better.
9. Know when it’s time to go.
If you’ve tried all you know to try and you’re either not enjoying yourself or you’re feeling emotionally or physically drained, it may be time to make a graceful exit. Give everyone a hug or shake hands, say thank you, and end your visit well.
10. Keep your expectations realistic.
Acknowledge that perfect holiday celebrations can actually be overrated. After all, think about all the things you laugh about from past celebrations—it’s probably not all the things that went just right.