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Relationships | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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Ashley Arn

by Dr. Ashley Arn, PsyD

The holidays can be an amazing time for relationships… and simultaneously a disastrous time as well! Some of us moms relish in the idea of family time, while others would prefer to get away to Hawaii. Family get-togethers can quickly become intense, hostile, and overwhelming if you and your partner are on different pages about the holidays.

One of the most important issues to address first is the topic of family traditions. Many couples struggle each year with the age-old dilemma of whose family they should see on which day, when, and how. Sometimes just the idea of managing the holidays can feel so overwhelming that we quickly prefer to just hibernate and pretend like they will never come. I have literally seen these types of arguments result in all kinds of hurt feelings and sometimes even long-term wars between family members.

The holidays can be such an amazing time to connect with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime. The secret to holiday bliss is staying connected to your partner, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs that will likely ensue. By just simply putting a couple of small steps into place, you can easily stay connected to your main squeeze throughout the holiday season.

Here are some ways to ensure that you and your partner can enjoy the holidays together and make them as special for your family as possible.

Step #1 Acknowledge & accept each other’s values

Many people differ in terms of the importance of family traditions. There are those that want to celebrate the holidays just like they did as a kid. There are also people who want to create their own traditions with their new family unit. Implementing new and old traditions in your family can be the perfect solution. Have you ever sat down and talked with your partner (not argued) so that you could really understand what pieces of the holidays are the most important to them? It’s worth a conversation. Arguments, specifically surrounding family traditions, usually happen when we try to meet our partner’s needs in the way that we get our own needs met. Basically, this means that we assume that our partner wants just what we want and that’s what makes them feel good. However, especially when it comes to family traditions, it is essential to really understand what values are important to you and your partner so that each person can get their holiday needs met.

I hear many couples say “The holidays are all about the kids.” Well, yes and no. Both parents being happy in their intimate relationship is the cornerstone of a happy family. If you and your partner are distant or arguing, the entire family feels the tension. In order for you to have a memorable holiday experience, you and your partner have to be on the same page.

The type of conversation that I am suggesting can be very simple. Plan ahead. As soon as you read this article, ask your partner when the two of you can sit down for a quick chat about how you would like the holidays to go.

During this meeting, you can ask these questions:

  • “What are the most important parts of the holidays for you?”
  • “What would you like the holidays to look like?”(as in spending time with who, when, and where)
  • “How can we make sure that we have some time alone with just our family (you, me, and the kids) and how can we make that special?”
  • “What time can we set aside just for you and I?” I am suggesting that you prioritize

I am suggesting that you prioritize your immediate family, but I am also aware that of course you are going to want to do your best to keep both partners extended families happy as well. Melding the values of different generations can be complicated. Parents, grandparents, and other family members often seem to want something far different than what feels important to us. Sometimes it feels so hopeless that we quickly end up giving into to certain family traditions even though we dread the event and then end up having a bad attitude the whole time we are there.

Start by appreciating and accepting differences between the generations. This will set the tone for a renegotiation of what is important in the present.

Once you have determined how both of you would like the holidays to go, strategize a plan and work together to do your best to make sure your plan happens. At the same time, it is also important to be realistic and flexible. As long as you are both doing your best to meet one another’s needs in the way you agreed upon, it will be much easier to work together as a team through any obstacles that come up throughout the holiday season.

Step #2 Emotionally connect no matter where you are

Acknowledging reality, you may end up in a boring situation together over the holidays. When things may feel a little stressful or boring, you can still maximize your connection with each other. Take a moment here or there to share a laugh about something funny or to flirt a little.

I know that I am always harping on the awesomeness of text messages, but when you are in a non-ideal holiday situation, you can really use text messages to your advantage.

You can text your partner something romantic, funny, what you wish the two of you could be doing, or simply just a text of appreciation. This can also be a great opportunity to make your partner feel special when you are in a crowded room of people.

The fact that the text message is just between the two of you makes it a secret, which creates an instant emotional connection.

However, if text messages aren’t your thing, you can always make up a random excuse to pull your partner aside, give them a quick kiss, embrace, or whisper a sweet nothing. Staying emotionally connected will continue to fuel the love and passion in your relationship.

Step #3 Practice mom-care

In addition to making sure you set aside time together, it is also essential that you practice mom balance. Self- care is critical through the holidays and will keep you the healthiest possible. Take a couple of minutes now to think about what truly makes you feel good and relaxed. Maybe it’s getting up before everyone else and having a cup of coffee and a little alone time (I know that is one of my favorites!). Maybe it means setting aside time for a workout. Don’t give into the hype of what helps other people relax, genuinely focus on what makes you feel good. If you just add “self-care” exercises that other people suggest to your to-do list you will just end up more stressed out. Setting aside even five minutes a day to rock out to your favorite music, take some deep breaths, or focus on what you are grateful for will help keep you calm and focused.

These three simple steps are a recipe for holiday success!

I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

by Dr. Ashley Arn, PsyD

As a Mompreneur myself, I totally understand how crazy busy life is ALL the time. Unfortunately, this usually means that we don’t spend very much time with our partners. The biggest complaint I hear from friends and clients is “We don’t have any time to spend together.” None of the people in my life are lying about this. As a Mompreneur, it is so insanely easy to get caught up in the constant chatter that we hear about what we “should” be doing with our partners, children, and business. Mompreneurs are taught to feel guilty about devoting any of their time and energy to their busi- nesses, thus taking time away from their families. The reality is that trying to be everyone’s hero only leaves you sad, unfulfilled, lost, and lonely.

Here’s the good news. With a few minor changes, you can have a successful career AND a passionate, fulfilling love life with your partner. Here are a few quick and easy tips to help you keep the fire burning in your relationship.

The majority of us have the most time to spend with our partner at night. The morning is usually riddled with rushing around trying to get ready for the day, get everyone fed, and make sure everyone has what they need for the day. Then it is off to the races, right? The day tends to fly by, often times without any communication with our partner other than “What’s for dinner?”, “Can you pick up the dry cleaning on your way home?” and other various conversations about chores or the kids. So, here’s the first easy tip: change the Nature of Your Daily communication with Your Partner through text messages.

From this point forward, ban mundane text messages like “How are you?” and any chore or kid related texts from your relationship with your partner. If you need to discuss these things, do it over the phone or through email. Going forward, choose to send only purposeful, passionate texts. Why? Because this is the one way that you can easily stay connected to your partner in a more intimate way throughout the day.

So, what is a purposeful, passionate text? Take a moment to think about something that your partner does on a daily basis that you really appreciate. It’s very easy in our daily grind to forget to show our partner appreciation for the things that they do. My husband empties the cat box every day (Ew, gross!) because he knows that I hate to do it and that I really appreciate it when he takes care of that for me.

I show him my appreciation of this by sending him a text like, “Babe, thank you so much for always emptying the stinky cat box. You are the best husband!” Now, this may seem like something small, but if he is having a rough day, he can read over this text relentlessly to remind himself of how I appreciate him.

If you want to take it one step further, you can even send spicy texts. You could start with something mildly romantic, like texting your partner a detailed memory of your first date or first kiss. If you are really feeling wild, you could even text your partner about what you might like to do to them later. That would really knock them off their feet!

This brings me to my next tip; implement the You Go First Principle in your relationship. When you want something to change in your relationship, be the one to make the first move. For example, if you are unhappy with the passion and connection in your relationship, try sending one of the texts that I suggested above to begin changing the nature of your communication with your partner.

Many people are not successful in the You Go First arena. Here’s why. As a Mompreneur, I am guessing you often come in contact with potential referral partners? When you meet someone that you think could be a good connection for your business, do you contact them once and then give up? No! Persistence pays. All good marketing and sales execs will tell you that your chances of making a sale increase significantly after you have made five connections with a potential consumer. So, the secret to the You Go First Principle is to be persistent! If you try something new with your partner and you don’t get a response immediately, don’t give up!

My final suggestion is a real quickie.

As I mentioned above, most of us have the greatest opportunity to spend time with our partner at night. Sadly, we often don’t take this opportunity. Sometimes we don’t take the time because we still have things on our to-do list or maybe we just had a rough day and don’t feel like putting forth the effort to connect.

The key to setting the tone for a great night with your partner (the kind of night where you just can’t wait until the kids go to bed so that you can be alone!) is connecting immediately when you come home together at the end of the day. There is a huge window of opportunity to connect with your partner during this transition at the end of the day. Here’s my suggestion: No matter What You Are Doing, stop everything and take Five minutes to Greet Your Partner and connect with them.

I have heard every excuse in the book as to why this is not possible. So, let me just tell you right now, you don’t have time to NOT nurture your relationship and your connection with your partner. Divorce is way too expensive. In order to be able to have this 5 minute window with your partner, you may have to explain to your kids that this is Mommy and Daddy time. Prioritize your relationship with your partner. The key to a happy family is that the parents are connected and on the same page.

I hope these tips were helpful! Feel free to get in touch if you have questions or need more tips.