Family time. This conversation is vital so that you don't step on the minefield of family obligations that leave you out of the picture. Talk about your vision for time spent with family, and frame it with making your relationship a priority. Be willing to bend and ask for the same flexibility. Collaborate on how to handle family situations. Stay out of the trap of "my way or the highway."
Couple time. This conversation is the one that tends to uncover any fault lines in your love. Put it right out front that you want lots of time together and that you understand you need to weave that around other obligations on both your parts. Declare your love and devotion. Then, bite your lip and listen carefully for your partner's response.
3. Deal with what comes up. If you get a lackluster response without much emotion behind it, you know you need to talk. If all you hear is crickets, you know you have a huge problem. Start by pointing out the obvious: "You dont seem very excited about the holidays or making plans with me. What is going on?” From there, continue asking questions until the answers provide clarity.
Emotional safety empowers people to open up, so ask questions gently, and be prepared. Decide up front to be okay with the answer, whatever it is. The biggest reason people don’t talk about problems along the way is fear of the other person blowing up in reaction. But by not talking about the issues, people make life-changing decisions in a vacuum.
4. Keep the conversation open. Address the issues. Encouraging open, honest dialog about your issues opens the door for resolving them. Nothing ever got solved in a relationship with silence, withholding, and stonewalling. Sometimes the very act of being able to air grievances and have the other person really listen is enough. Sometimes you need to collaborate on better ways to handle the issues.
5. Deal with the dealbreakers. The other scenario is that you uncover a major incompatibility, or, the biggest deal-breaker of all: I'm not that into you. If you do, you have the opportunity to begin unwinding your relationship with dignity and respect. Instead of being blind-sided in January, you can create the controlled breakup scenario wherein you agree that the issue can't be resolved. You move on with grief, but minus the anger and recriminations. After all, you saw it coming and you dealt with it.
January doesn't have to be the biggest breakup month, not if you make a commitment now to open, honest communication. By opening up conversations about the three hot holiday topics — gift giving, family time, and couple time — you can get to the bottom of any issues. Keeping the conversation open until you resolve the issues, or deal with any deal-breakers, prevents blindsiding. By following these steps, you strengthen your love and connection.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read the transformational book that will change your life and your relationships with men: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid. To successfully date online, get Nina's $0.99 eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Learn how to communicate effectively with your mate with Soul Talk: Powerful, Positive Communication for a Loving Partnership. Get loads of free advice and Love Strategies at www.singlescoach.com.