You know that busy two-week stretch leading up to "Happy New Year," right? Well, isn't it supposed to be a nonstop party; a string of mistletoe inspired kisses; a joyous reveal of extravagant gifts? Then why does January 2nd herald so many choruses of, “Thank goodness it’s over?” And why do the shiny jingle bells of love, which hold so much promise early in the holiday season, seem tarnished by January? I suggest it’s because most of us have set ourselves up for holiday disappointments, encouraged by movies, media and the merchandising mania of the season.
Whether your relationship is brand new or has been years in the making, there’s no doubt that the winter holidays create unique demands. The pressure to realize romantic holiday dreams of love and lust is, at least in part, carried over from old movies where everything was perfect, making our “sexpectations” for today’s relationship as bloated as the bird fattened up for the holiday feast. By December 26th our lively romance, just like that poor turkey, may be stuffed and roasted on a platter, and by New Year's Day, mere leftovers.
To avoid that holiday blade of doom, we need to be realistic about seasonal pressures and their effects on our love lives. For starters, recognize that the whole idea that holidays are a time of unremitting goodwill and family togetherness is a myth that usually conflicts with most people’s imperfect realities. During the season, family members who have avoided each other like plague-carriers are thrust into each other’s homes; holiday tasks often feel overwhelming, while shopping crowds and looming deadlines add instant stress and ill temper. As the spirit of the holidays becomes tainted by consumerism, and as feelings of envy or emptiness arise at the sight of ideal-holiday TV specials, the renowned holiday blues are born and bred. But... hey... we bought into the myth of the ideal holiday, and, like most people, we’ll be damned if we’re going to give it up! That’s when we look to our lovers or spouses to compensate for other holiday miseries and make everything all right. Now the heavy duty pressure is on—because they are looking to us, too!
Maybe you tell yourself that everything will be Ok if your honey would just sashay around the house wearing the skimpy lingerie that’s still in the box from last year. Maybe you think that all will be well if your guy figures out how badly you want that diamond bracelet featured in the catalogue you left open on the kitchen table. But -- whatever your fix-it fantasy, this is the moment you need to wake up and realize that your feelings won’t be salved by your darling’s mind-reading – especially when, let’s face it, he hasn’t been able to manage that feat once all year. By adding another demand, you’re setting him up to fail you, and ensuring that you’ll sink deeper into the holiday blues. Instead, pay attention to your feelings and talk about them all. Chances are, your partner has some of the same concerns and is hiding them, too—or hoping they’ll go away when you do something spectacular. Yet, simple empathy can mean more to both of you than trying to live up to a Hallmark image that nobody will ever attain.