How to Make Your Relationship Stress-Free During the Holidays

How to Make Your Relationship Stress-Free During the Holidays

During the holidays, we encounter a myriad of situations in our relationships that add unwanted anxiety to what should be enjoyable occasions. Our Facebook fans sent in some challenging Christmas issues and we hope we’ve helped to make them a bit more stress-free.

My fiancé and I decided that we'd not exchange gifts this year although we've done so the last two years of our relationship. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without anything under the tree and although we don't exchange gifts on birthdays, he always manages to surprise me with something. Any advice?

I have a few thoughts on a situation like this. If your fiancé seems to frequently surprise you on other holidays, he could be doing the same for this one. My suggestion is to get a gift and wrap it. If he gets you one, you won't feel like such a lousy girlfriend; however, if he actually does not get you one, then just return the present or save it for another occasion. Just make sure the store you get it from has a good return policy! Another thing you can bring up can be a joint-gift. Something the both of you will love and that would involve the two of you doing something fun and can be within any price range you two are most comfortable with. If it's the gifts under the tree you're missing, you can wrap it in something creative and place it under the tree. Then you still have a bit of the Christmas decor that we all know and love. What about donating to a charity? You can spread the Christmas cheer and do so selflessly. That way you still get into the gift-giving spirit of the holidays. 

A mutual gift of a "staycation" in the city eliminates shopping stress and can ignite romance
A mutual gift of a "staycation" in the city eliminates shopping stress and can ignite romance

I recently started dating a wonderful guy—after recovering from a very bad break-up of a long-term relationship—and he's asked me to join him with his family on Christmas Eve. Problem is that we've only been dating a month and it's too soon for me. Is there a graceful way to bow out or should I throw caution to the wind?

There are some people who get into relationships and feel that there is no such thing as too soon. Your guy just may be one of these people. That's okay! It's not a bad thing, it's just different from who you are. What you can do is create a situation you would find yourself most comfortable with. You can explain to him the reason why you’re cautious when it comes to family functions. If he's the wonderful guy that you say he is, I am sure that he will understand and he will be grateful that you told him the truth. Suggest meeting for a glass of champagne before going your different ways, or maybe a cute restaurant for appetizers. As long as you reserve a little time for the two of you, there should be no conflict.  Remember, being honest with your new guy is key.

In a new relationship, make some time for the two of you before celebrating separately
In a new relationship, make some time for the two of you before celebrating separately

My husband's family—his parents, brother and sister-in-law—has suddenly decided to visit us in NoLa this year and they'll be staying at our home for an entire week. I only have Christmas Day off from work and I don't want to seem inhospitable, but a week is a long time in a small space. What can I do to seem like a good hostess and stay sane at the same time?

There's nothing worse than when your family descides to stay at your home without really consulting you first; space is limited and tensions can get high. The last thing you want to do is resent the fact that your family is in town when you should be excited. My first suggestion: talk to your husband. Hash things out with him and explain to him exactly how you feel. He may surprise you and think of a solution you never would have thought of on your own. If family is a touchy subject with him and you'd rather go a different route on your own, that's okay, too. Try to find things to do around New Orleans that you love. Give his family members some brochures, recommend some awesome restaurants that you and your husband frequent, and any other activity you can think of that will give them a feel for the city and get them out of your hair for a few hours. They will be understanding of your work schedule, and all the great suggestions you give them will make you a great hostess.

My boyfriend spares no expense at Christmas and he has given me some pricey gifts; however, most of the time I end up returning them for something that I really like that's more me. I know he's upset that I return it and I want to be proactive, avoiding an awkward situation for both of us. Any ideas?

A little planning can help avoid the frustration of a receiving a gift you don't want
A little planning can help avoid the frustration of a receiving a gift you don't want

Giving gifts can be an awkward situation for couples. This year, you should definitely work some things out before shopping. Suggest that you make a list of the top 10 items that you have had your eye on, but just can't spend the money on for yourself. Or, why not go shopping together? Point out things you really want so he knows exactly what you're looking for. You can also then get a "mini-gift" for each other. This is something that is not on your list, but on which you can put a price cap, so if you don't like it you can pretend you do so you don't hurt his feelings and not feel like you're throwing money down the drain. You still get a gift and your boyfriend is happy because he gets to pick something he thinks would be special for you. Lastly, there really is no need for gift exchanging. Don't think the list/mini-gift idea will fly? Plan a joint “staycation” together and both chip in for a hotel room and a nice dinner. With any of these ideas, you are in control of your Christmas present and don't have to worry about crushing your boyfriend’s spirits when you go to exchange his gift.

I've been dating my boyfriend for six months now and things are going very well. We've finally decided to get together this holiday with his son and daughter who are both go to Tulane and they are very close to their mother, my boyfriend's ex. I'm really nervous about meeting them for the first time, especially during the holidays. I want to make a good impression...any tips?

Situations with children are always tough. My number one suggestion: don't try and play the role of mom. If you try to do that, the kids may see you as a threat to their real mother and this could end up ruining the festivities for everyone involved. That being said, they are college students and could surprise you with their maturity. If you are kind and personable without being overbearing, your time together will be great. Also, ask a lot of questions and find out about what interests them. Who knows, you may have a common hobby and bond. I also suggest bringing some yummy treats. Food will always get you bonus points in a college student's heart!