The holidays are upon us.

THE Relationship Blog

The holidays are upon us. Soon, our homes will be filled with music, decorations, turkey and family. Many people experience stress during these times. Why? This is the most wonderful time of the year, right? At least that’s what the song says. Do we have an aversion to jingling bells, stuffing and the occasional gift? No. Put simply, the holidays bring up every issue with perfectionism that we have (which we will address tomorrow). But, why does family carry the brunt of our pain?

People ask us all the time, ‘why does my spouse take their stress out on me?’ This is really common but the answer is a little confusing. We tend to release our stress inappropriately. In fact, we have entire industries created so that we can release stress. Drinking, smoking, eating and gambling are some manners we have learned to release stress. Sex is also one of the release valves we have in our society. All of these means of stress release are condoned by society. Happy Hour has proliferated to an American tea time with the advent of getting a drink after work to blow off some steam. As you can see, all of these methods to relieve stress are addictions as well.

Stress, as an emotion or feeling, is not fooled by alcohol. You may forget it for an hour or two but it remains. We try to repress stress with these unhealthy processes and find that those bottled up feelings pop up elsewhere. Your son forgets to take out the trash and you blow up. Your husband forgets to call you after his meeting and you let him have it when he does call. These are common scenarios of circumstances where the punishment does not fit the crime. Minor irritations become full-fledged wrath of God feelings. All because we think we have dealt with stress. But, why the tsunami of rage on our loved ones?

Easy. They are there. Your family is there all the time and somewhere in your mind you have figured out that they aren’t going anywhere. We allow ourselves to misbehave with them because, in our experience, family will always forgive. This consistency creates complacency in our behavior. We take each other for granted. Sure, we can pray every night and say thanks for the amazing family but, ultimately, thank you is not enough. Being thankful is far from being grateful. An attitude of gratitude includes cherishing the object of which you are grateful. While cherishing something, it is very difficult to hurt them or assume that they will be there tomorrow.

Dealing with stress is vital for survival during the holidays. Here are 3 easy steps to follow to stay frolicking through the tinsel:

1. Create a safe word. Make up a word in the family that is used when someone is feeling overwhelmed. This will alert the others to step up to assist the stressee.

2. Avoid overdoing it with substances. The holidays are a time of excess and imbibing has a way of releasing the demons inside and repressing feelings that should be expressed in a healthy manner.

3. Love the ones your with. Cherish your family and think twice before you say something.

Keep reading CoupleDumb this week and for the rest of the holidays for more tips and advice on making your relationships sparkle through the holiday season!

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