When thinking about the upcoming holidays, we become more sensitive. We develop all types of expectations of how we should be loved and cared for. However, sometimes don’t discuss those with our partners. So, couples are putting themselves in a situation where they are bound to get disappointed. For example, you may expect to receive a certain gift, but instead, get something different.
Or, you might be looking forward to a romantic getaway only to find that you are spending the holidays at your in-law’s house. You might even be in the midst of a discussion at dinner and expect your partner to have your back but instead feel completely alone. These situations can leave you feeling like you fell on your face. As a couples therapist, I advise couples to have two productive discussions before the holidays.
What Are Our Boundaries?
The first discussion should be about your boundaries as a couple during the holidays. What are they? Are they clear? Or, are there rigid or diffuse boundaries that need to be negotiated? Knowing the boundaries between each other will allow you to be more comfortable in situations where family or friends are around. Setting boundaries could include deciding not to drink alcohol at the work party, not to bring up political arguments with family and in-laws, or deciding not to buy gifts for family members if it’s going to put too much strain on your budget. However, make sure that both of you are on the same page and agree on the boundaries.
The three types of boundaries, rigid, diffuse, and clear, come from Brené Brown’s teachings on boundaries.
Rigid boundaries involve saying “no” and may be inflexible. Think of it as telling you what is right or wrong but taking the approach of “my way or the highway.” Diffuse boundaries don’t really exist, and they may involve not saying “no” or making an effort to negotiate. For example, you and your partner planned for a romantic getaway but find yourself at your in-laws’ house. Your partner said, “yes” to your in-laws, but there was no negotiation or repercussion of their decision. Clear boundaries are the most productive. They involve mutual respect of both parties and being able to negotiate when one person says “no.”
When you and your partner have a clear understanding of your boundaries, it can help to navigate difficult conversations that may arise during the holidays. You both can talk through situations you foresee coming up and discuss how to best handle them. For instance, when you both go to the work party and there is drinking involved, when do you leave, how do you handle it? Or, is your family coming to your place, or are you going there? What are expectations regarding gifts, who buys what? Discussing these questions ahead of time and having an agreed-upon set of boundaries, can help to avoid any embarrassment or feeling letdown.
What Do We Need to Feel Loved and Cared for?
The second discussion should be about what each of you needs to feel loved and cared for during this time when your emotions are heightened. This is a good time to talk about core needs. Most of us in relationships need to feel loved and cared for. So, talking to your partner about what makes you each feel love can help build connection, trust, and respect in your relationship. One way to do this is to emphasize your love language.
The 5 Love Languages is a concept created by Gary Chapman to help couples learn the different ways they express and experience love.
They are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Knowing your love language can help you give your partner insight into what makes you feel loved and cared for. For example, if you enjoy words of affirmation, your partner can tell you what they love about you or express gratitude for the things you do. Or if you enjoy acts of service, your partner having your back during a difficult conversation, or taking care of something you’ve been meaning to do, can be a big help. You can also tell your partner what makes you feel loved specifically around the holidays.
Such as, “At your family’s I want you to have my back. Especially around your brother. This is how to do that” Or, “When we are buying presents, what makes me feel loved is getting a really thoughtful gift. I don’t want a diamond ring or something you just bought. I would love something that had some thought behind it.” Talking through what makes you each feel loved and cared for, can help to foster connection. But also leave less room for assumption, misunderstanding or feeling let down.
Begin Couples Counseling in Florida
During the holidays when relationships are tested and emotions are heightened, it is important for to discuss boundaries and core needs with your partner. But if conversations become too difficult to navigate on your own, a couples counselor can help. If you’re ready to start your journey:
- Schedule a consultation or call us at 305-507-9955
- Speak to a relationship expert to receive information about all of our couples therapy sessions.
- Schedule your first session with one of our expert counselors and start creating boundaries and building connections.
Other Services Provided By Idit Sharoni – Relationship Experts
You’re wanting to set clear boundaries and build connections with your partner during the holidays. To make sure they are loved and cared for. However, you need support to help you navigate the journey. You need and want to speak to an expert. Our therapists at Idit Sharoni – Relationship Experts provide a wide range of services to help you build the relationship you’ve always wanted. One where you feel understood, respected, and loved. Our Miami, FL-based counseling office offers many different services online besides Couples Counseling, including Affair Counseling, Communication Counseling, and Infidelity Recovery Programs. We also offer online therapy sessions for other types of relationship issues.