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Get Through the Holidays Without your Relationship Falling Apart! December 12, 2009

Posted by ozsomesuccess in Law of Attraction, Romance & Relationships.
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(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Is She a Cool Girl, or a Neurotic Nellie?” A similar chapter, from the female point of view, appears in “Mr. Right, Mr. Lame, or Mr. Hyde?”)

Early in my dating career, I traveled from Baltimore to Denver for the Christmas holidays with my then-boyfriend. I met his family, and I went skiing for the first time in my life. A great time was had by all – except by my parents, who were back on the East Coast.

It was the first time since I’d been born, that they were going through Christmas without me – but that wasn’t what bothered them so much. No – He and I had been dating for 8 months, and I had a sneaking suspicion that his Christmas gift to me would come in a small package, presented on bended knee.

When it didn’t happen, my parents were actually even more disappointed than I was! They were very “old school,” and thought it highly inappropriate that he had taken me to meet his parents without the understanding that I was his fiancée.

When I divulged this to him, he said he wasn’t aware that such a thing was expected of him. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long after that.

This story is a perfect example of how relationships that seem to be going great, can blow up in your face when the Holidays hit, leaving you wondering What The Hell Happened.

It all has to do with Expectations – both yours and hers.

Bill Harris’s dictum from Managing Evolutionary Growth, “Nothing has any meaning except that which we give it,” is perhaps never more true than at Holiday Time. That’s because your relationship is really two relationships: The one you’re having with her, and the one she’s having with you. They may not be the same thing at all. Then it all gets compounded by your respective Expectations of what you each believe the Holidays should be.

Notice how this feeds right back into my definition of Stress? You may find that the conflict between What You Want, and your Perceived Ability to Get It, is so great that it’s only a matter of time before one or both of you cracks under pressure. You want the Holidays to be a warm, fuzzy, beautiful, loving time . . . and you or she might be feeling particularly sour if they don’t turn out that way.

You might accidentally do something that she takes personally, when in reality it has nothing to do with how you feel about her; it has more to do with how you feel about Holiday Time.

For example: Do either of your families have traditions, or issues, you should both know about? Forewarned is forearmed. If you’re going home to visit your mother, and she has serious health issues (whether physical or mental), but your lady doesn’t know about this, she may feel hurt if you’re not taking her with you. You, on the other hand, may be trying to protect her (and yourself) from a potentially embarrassing situation. Let her know that you really are being considerate of her.

Is your family a bunch of Health Nuts, and is your lady all excited about baking her own set of Christmas Cookies to give them . . .  only to be disappointed (or even insulted) upon finding out that they won’t eat them? (I’m a Gluten-Free Gal, so such things matter to me.) Your family might also be unpleasantly surprised if your lady is prone to getting very hungry very suddenly, to the point of feeling faint and/or getting snappy – and she’s not pregnant. This can happen if she’s hypoglycemic or has Type O blood – better pack some snacks, just in case.

Is her family very religious, but you, not so much? (or vice versa) Be prepared to go with her and her family to religious services if that’s the case. You can at least enjoy the music – Christmas sermons tend to avoid laying-on the guilt trips, keeping the message on the bright side.

More seriously: Does your lady have a history of experiencing death around the Winter Solstice? Remembering relatives who died, and the terrible angst that gripped her and the rest of her family at that time, may put her into not-the-best-of-moods. And you’ll have No Clue as to why she’s suddenly acting so immature – unless you ASK!

My mother had a long history of tough times around Christmas. When she was six, her big sister, the favorite of the family, died suddenly on Christmas Day, and she overheard her father say he wished it had been her who died. Twelve years later and barely out of high school, her own mother died of cancer in December. At age 65, her husband (my father) went into the hospital the day after Christmas and died three weeks later. Then she herself died on Epiphany at the relatively young age of 68.

This gives you an idea of how much “baggage” a person may be carrying, when Holiday Time comes. It’s a good idea to know this ahead of time, before she says or does something that insults your family and embarrasses you in front of them. If you figure out that this is what’s going on with your lady, be understanding and give her all the love and comfort that you can. Make her feel like you’re her family now (if it’s not inappropriate for you to do so).

You may be putting so much emphasis on making sure everybody on your gift-giving list gets covered, that you may completely overlook deeper issues like this. Yet even the gifts themselves can be landmines of misunderstandings, going way beyond the insincere reaction of “just the thing I need, how nice.”

Take for example, the art books I gave my husband one year, to replace those that had gotten damaged in a basement flood. I thought I was doing him a favor, but he thought I was trying to embarrass him by reminding him of how he behaved like a ballistic jerk when he discovered the damage!

So ask yourself: what do you HOPE her reaction will be, at the gift you’d like to get for her? What do you HOPE she’ll give you? Then TALK about your Expectations. This can be tricky, because you also want to preserve the element of surprise and not reveal too much. But you should at least try to get clear on whether you are both expecting something Great, or something modest (if it’s a low-budget year). And do make an effort to get familiar enough with her tastes that you don’t get her something that you would rather have for yourself (like the sweatshirt of your favorite football team instead of a negligee).

Happy Holidays – and May your Fondest Desires be Fulfilled!