Driving home for Christmas? Remember to focus on what keeps your relationships happy and healthy
21st December 2018
It’s Christmas! A time of good cheer, celebration, relaxation and giving – right? Well, for many, the festive period can actually be pretty stressful – rushing around buying all the presents, a full house and too little sleep. We blog on how to keep your relationships happy and healthy over the holidays.
Planning to have a baby is a major life transition, and it can undoubtedly place pressure on your relationship whatever the time of year – for example, you may find that your intimacy decreases. This can be really tough over the holidays when you feel like you should be feeling festive and jolly. So, whether you’ve been looking forward to Christmas since October or can’t wait for it to be over, we’ve pulled together some ideas for how you can stay focused on your relationships over the holidays.
Get your relationship 5 a day
Award winning relationship therapist Dr. John Gottman made a key observation of couples who stayed together – that they have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in their relationships. While some negative interactions (such as disagreements, hurt feelings and hostility) are necessary to keep relationships open, honest and strong, they hold a great deal of emotional power which can damage your relationship. That’s why it’s so important to overcome them with more frequent (five more, to be precise!) positive interactions such as validation and empathy.
Try and keep this in mind over the next few weeks (especially if your family are driving you up the wall by Christmas Eve…) – refocus on what keeps your relationship healthy by making sure that for every one negative interaction you have with your partner, you have five positive ones. Here are some ideas:
- Plan a date: Go out for dinner, to the cinema or wrap up warm and go out for a wintry walk – be sure to spend some time just the two of you.
- Be thoughtful and supportive: Has your partner had a stressful time in the lead up to the Christmas break? Could you do something to make them feel more relaxed over the holidays? Perhaps you could make dinner, help them with any last minute preparation or just give them a hug.
- Express gratitude: The next time your partner does something you are grateful for, explicitly acknowledge it and say thank you. This will help you refocus on what you have, instead of what you lack – and will help you to nurture your relationship.
- Have fun: Laugh with your partner – try playing a new board game!
- Tell them that you love them: What about writing a love letter to your partner, or if that’s not your thing – remember to tell them you love them.
Strong support networks
When you’re planning to get pregnant, wider relationships with your family and friends can also become more fraught. Strong support networks are important for everyone’s emotional health and wellbeing, and have been found in research studies to protect against poor mental health. Building social connections can help us to feel happier and more secure, and give us a great sense of purpose. Over the break, arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen in a while, have lunch with a close family member or volunteer in your local community
Find a community you can connect with
When you’re trying to conceive, your close friends and family may not have experienced the same challenges as you, or you may want to speak to someone you don’t know. Research shows that ‘peer support’ from someone who personal experiences similar to your own can be particularly effective if you are trying to conceive. It can help to normalise your experiences, reduce symptoms of stress, relieve loneliness and even provide tips for trying to conceive. There are many communities online, including the Adia community, who provide emotional health support through sharing and talking about experiences. If you have more specific questions about finding a community you can connect with your coach. Learn more about the expert support you can access of Adia and sign up to submit your questions directly!
In collaboration with Dr Camilla Rosan, clinical psychologist and couple therapist.