Ah the holidays! Tis the season to be jolly or Tis’ the season for a stressful experience? In speaking with many couples on this particular subject, the one most important thing on everyone’s list during this time is easing the stress that couples face and getting through the most wonderful time of the year without feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge.
For stepfamilies, just the mere thought of the “holidays” can propound feelings of uneasiness, anxiety and depression. Not only is this the most “argued” time of the year but the most stressful for stepparents as well. For stepparents with children of their own, feelings of guilt that they feel like they must work their plans around their stepchildren’s schedules, buying extra presents for purposes of equality and making the holiday flow fairly in general so that their spouse is not stressed makes for some seriously resentful holiday pressure. Let us not forget that this is also the most stressful time of the year for children of divorce. Tensions and emotions run high because children feel torn and divided during this time and oftentimes it is hard for them to navigate because their feelings of guilt overwhelm them. It is important that parents and stepparents are cognizant of same and are communicative with their children during this time.
Common disagreements during the holidays can be avoided if properly handled. Here are a few tips to effectively navigate the holidays with your spouse:
- Set monetary limits. Make a list and stick to it.
- Be realistic about gift giving. Remember, you should never feel pressure to make things equal. The simple reality is that in step situations, things will never be equal and that includes holiday gift giving.
- It is always best to default to the court order during the holidays, especially if what once worked for you and your ex-spouse no longer holds the same value. If there is no court order, I would suggest that one be put in place. It alleviates all the unnecessary drama that occurs during the holiday season.
- Be flexible. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have flexibility in your positions during the holidays. Remember, every year will hold something new for you, your children, your stepfamily and your current and ex-spouse. Everyone needs to be open to making concessions.
- Spend alone time with your spouse. Major problems can be avoided at anytime during your marriage but especially when tensions are high during the holidays when you take time to spend quality time with your spouse. This allows for rejuvenation.
TMF Readers, don’t allow holiday pressure to ruin your quality time with your families. In stepfamilies, the dynamics are constantly changing. In fact, change is the law of life in stepfamilies. Make new traditions with your unique family, don’t sweat the small stuff and lastly, you don’t have to “over-invest.” Take the holidays one at a time and build your links and bonds with one another. Always remember, stepfamilies are built over time and just because it’s the holidays and the “happiest time of the year” doesn’t mean you have to fast-forward full speed ahead. Slow it down, make your own traditions, pay attention to your marriage and have a stress-free holiday season!
Peace & Blessings,