The holidays are such a special time of year, but for many of us, family time means stress time. Most families find they have the same stress points every year. Whether you are the host or the guest, you can probably predict where the problems are going to come from, based on experiences from years past.

So this winter, make an early New Year’s resolution to take a good look at holiday plans and re-align priorities to focus on what really matters. Think like a greeting card. If it doesn’t bring joy, peace and good will toward all, it doesn’t need to be part of your holiday celebration.

To keep irritation with others from turning into irritation with your significant other, make a plan ahead of time. The biggest complaint couples have with each other during the holidays is that they don’t feel their partner is sensitive to their feelings and needs when members of the extended family are around. So, set up a signal for when you need help with an uncooperative family member, or when it’s time to pack it in for the day. And check in with each other often to remind yourselves that you are still “on the same team.”

Most of all, be sure to reserve some personal couple time. Holidays are a great time for a stroll together along decorated streets, or to curl up in front of a cozy fire. Not only will this lead to a more relaxing holiday, but most of all, it will keep that couple’s bond strong!

Elaine Wilco is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 20 years of experience. She maintains a private practice in Alpharetta focused on helping those with intimacy issues. Follow her at facebook.com/IntimacyAtlanta.

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