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Sex with Dr. Jess


December 20, 2017

Tips for Having a Happy and Harmonious Holiday With Your Partner

’Tis the season to be jolly! But just how jolly can one be when the already overwhelming to-do list is further encumbered by the addition of holiday chores, family gatherings and of course, family politics?

Research suggests that along with an increase in alcohol consumption and binge eating, stress levels also increase during the holiday season. It follows, that relationships — intimate and familial — are strained and for many, the holidays, are anything but harmonious.

We asked The Morning Show viewers to share their holiday-related questions and concerns about relationships and offered some insights on how to have a more harmonious holiday season.

Josie from Barrie sent us a FB message: My husband’s family is a disaster and always ends up fighting after Christmas dinner. (We are hosting this year.) It’s so stressful for him and I want to take care of him. What can I do?

  • It’s awesome that you’re looking out for him — just make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. If you want to lower his stress levels, you need to differentiate your experience from his — that is, don’t let his stress be your stress, because if you do, it’s harder to care for him. (This applies regardless of gender.)
  • Since you’re the hosts this year, try planning activities they can engage in shoulder to shoulder as opposed to face to face. The former may be less intimate, but it’s not your job to play therapist.
  • Take him aside once an hour for 60 seconds to rub his hands or shoulders or just tell him that he is loved.

Chris from Ottawa DM’d us on Twitter: Hiya Jess. My wife is the WORST gift-giver. She doesn’t even try to get me something thoughtful. And I have to do all the gift shopping for everyone — even her siblings, nieces and parents. How do I get her to step up to the plate?

  • Stop buying for her family. Make a list and split it in half, so that she has to do some of the shopping too.
  • Explain why you care about gifts; it’s not about the object itself, but the thought. Look for other ways she shows thoughtfulness to see if you can encourage her to parlay this thoughtfulness into gift giving too.

Veda from Montreal sent us a Twitter DM: How do I get my brother-in-law to stop criticizing everything we do? He’s critical of our house, our kids, the way we set the dinner table and even our dog.

  • Don’t accept the criticism; each time is offers a negative critique, move on to something else that makes you feel good. If he says your potatoes are overcooked, respond with “I’m just loving these lentils”. If I try to hand you a pen and you refuse to take it, whom does it belong to? Me! Let him hold on to his own criticism.
  • Respond with kindness; when someone in the family has a history of exhibiting a specific behaviour, the rest of us come to expect it — in fact, we look for it and we may not approach them with the same love and respect they crave. So if he criticizes the fact that your living room is messy, reply with a compliment about his living room.
  • Let him know that his criticisms hurt. If he says he doesn’t like your cooking, respond with “That makes me feel badly”. See where the conversation goes…
  • If he is passive-aggressive, respond with a “Why?” question. For example, if he says “Your house looks nice for one in this neighbourhood” ask, “Why would you say that?” or “What do you mean by that?” Asking for clarification can help to call out and reduce passive-aggressive commentary.