What The Holiday Season Says About Your Relationship

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Ah yes. The holiday season. As far as (romantic) relationships go, it’s the time of year when people get engaged the most. Interestingly enough, because a lot of people don’t like to “rock the boat” too much during Christmastime, January is when divorces are filed the most often.


And honestly, in a roundabout way, it’s for both of these reasons that I think that, when you’re dating (especially seriously dating) someone, I believe that this is the time of year when you should especially take note of certain things. Because if there’s one time of year when you can get a real peep into what your future with someone could very possibly be like — between Thanksgiving and New Year’s would definitely be it.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading and I think that you’ll see exactly where I am coming from.

If They’re a “Holiday Person” or Not

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After almost two decades of working with couples, if there are three things that get totally underestimated during the dating process it’s sexual compatibility, having different faith mindsets, and how folks view holidays. And while the first two may make all of the sense in the world to you, if that last one is something that you think is no biggie — you are potentially setting yourself up for years of unnecessary stress, drama, and/or disappointment, if you don’t ponder how this can very much so become problematic.

Shoot, even on a friendship level, I had a friend who was pretty much obsessed with Christmas. I don’t observe holidays so, whenever she’d want me to come over for Christmas movies, loud Christmas music, and the baking of Christmas cookies and I passed or was less than enthusiastic, she was low-key triggered. That’s because a lot of people have many emotional things wrapped up into the holiday season: childhood memories, certain teachings, and sentimental expectations.

Anyway, if you’re someone who counts down to Christmas, your partner couldn’t care less and somehow you think that it will be smooth sailing for the rest of your life to be with someone like that — I’ll just say that I’ve had some clients who have ultimately broken up over that very issue. It’s because one felt overlooked while the other felt that they were being dramatic. And since Christmas — hell, all holidays — circle around every year…years of this led to a build-up of stress and resentment.

Moral to the story: might as well figure out now where both of you stand and, if you’re not on the same page of interest or enthusiasm, if there is room for compromise before jumping any broom.

If They’re Proactive or Reactive

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Although I don’t do holidays, I don’t know if it’s the Gemini in me or what but I am all-the-way-live about my birthday. That said, I once had a boyfriend who, while he was a nice guy, he absolutely sucked when it came to celebrating the one day that I actually care about. I mean, he was horrible at it. The reason he gave was his birthday wasn’t that big of a deal — and you know what? I absolutely don’t get what that has to do with me. Yeah, it’s kind of another article for another time that you should make sure that your partner isn’t so selfish that they think you should not expect certain things from them just because they’re not interested in them. Anyway, because this was his mindset, I can’t count one time when he was proactive about my birthday. Now, once he realized that either my feelings were hurt or I was irritated, here he would come with some sort of semi-plan — but why did it take that for him to show up for something that happens the same time annually? *le sigh*

The silver lining on this point is, that he’s the reason why I tell people all of the time to make sure that they pay attention to whether or not their partner is proactive vs. reactive during the dating process. What I mean by that is, do they think about what would bring a smile to your face all on their own or do they only do things to get out of the “dog house” on the back end?

And if holidays matter to you, there is no better time to pay close attention to this particular point: Are they offering to help with shopping or wrapping? Have they planned dates to get your mind off of potential holiday stress? Have they asked you to set aside time for them whether it’s during Christmas or in time for New Year’s? Or has it been crickets the entire time?

My late fiancé was a proactive man. I mean, even when I had a cold, this man would have flowers, orange juice, and meds waiting for me at my dorm (yep, even at that young of an age, he was on it). It’s one of the things that “sold” me to the concept of forever with him. People who move proactively have you on their minds and like to show it.

Reactive people are always trying to fix what could’ve been avoided…if they had only been proactive in the first place. BIG DIFFERENCE. And yes, the holidays typically tend to amplify all of this.

How Their Love Language Translates

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There is a wife in my life who once said something to me that I have shared before on this platform and I definitely make a point to share with all of my clients at one point or another. After a few decades of marriage and watching how her husband is reactive in many ways, I inquired how it made her feel. What she said was truly a mic drop moment: “I know that he loves me. He just doesn’t nourish or cherish me well.” She’s pulling that from Scripture: “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” (Ephesians 5:28-29 — NKJV)

One definition of nourish is “sustain with food or nutriment.” Her husband is a good provider, so I know what she meant was more in the lane of synonyms like cultivate, tend to, and comfort. He’s just not the “go above and beyond” kind of man.

As far as cherish, that means that someone “to care for tenderly; nurture.”

When it comes to your own relationship, one way that your own partner can nourish and cherish you is by speaking your love language (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts) — and the holiday season is a great time for them to do that. Even if they don’t have a ton of money, they can take you out on dates that have your love language in mind (check out “15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language”). And while they’re doing that, you too can be figuring out how to become more fluent in the love language that they tend to resonate with the most.

Since December is reportedly the most romantic time of the year, if a man is gonna show up in this particular area, it’s usually gonna be now or bust. And that brings me to my next point.

If They’re Romantic

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I’m working with a client right now who is the absolute worst when it comes to romance. In his mind, if it’s not practical, it makes no sense to do it — whatever “it” may be. Because he’s a good husband in other areas, his wife has learned how to go without it; however, she has shared with me that if she could do things over again, she would’ve not married someone who didn’t have one romantic bone in his body because it has caused her to feel less appreciated than she thought that going without it would.

And just what does it mean to be a romantic individual? A very simple word encapsulates it pretty well: wooing. It’s what someone does to receive the — or when you’re in a relationship, more of the — affection, attention, admiration, and love of someone else.

Now we already know that one of the reasons why some people can seem romantic on the front end and then it falls off later is because they will amp up the “wooing” during dating and courtship and then get very comfortable after marriage. However, when someone is naturally romantic, more times than not, that isn’t the case. I know some husbands who are “strong wooers” to this day and it’s all because they are hard-wired to show their wives how much they mean to them on a pretty consistent basis.

Now, it’s another article for another time that it’s easier for a man to be romantic when women are wooing back (y’all ready to talk about that yet?). For instance, let’s not act like Valentine’s Day ain’t coming up soon and some of y’all think that it’s only about what you should be receiving and not also giving in return (sex is not a present, by the way). Yet the bottom line with this point is — watch if he woos or turns up the wooing. If he doesn’t and that really and truly bothers you, don’t ignore those feelings. “Forever” is a long time to go without getting something that you need and if romance is one of those things…take that very seriously.

(The husband I talked about has a hella surprise for his wife before the holidays are over, by the way. Counseling works! If there’s trouble in your relationship right now…get some.)

How
They Are with Money

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Did you know that, reportedly, 25 percent of people are still trying to get rid of the debt that they received from holiday shopping last year? Yeah, that’s not good. And since financial stress, drama, and trauma continue to be a leading cause of why marriages end, you both need to pay attention to how y’all act in the mall and with your credit cards online right about now. Are either one of you impulsive spenders? Do either one of you take the attitude of “spend now, worry later”? This is a great time to talk about if you both are good at budgeting if you both have savings accounts (with actual money in it), and if you both use credit cards for emergencies more than anything else.

Since money is something that is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people, it’s no shocker that many couples end up totally blindsided in marriage because they didn’t know certain things about how their partner got down when it comes to coins. Shoot, you’d be amazed by how many folks get up in arms whenever I ask them to show their partner their credit report during premarital sessions — umm, you’re going to be married to them. You don’t think they’re gonna eventually find out anyway? (What in the world?)

A lot of money moves around during the holiday season. This means that if there is a time when it doesn’t seem quite so “Why do you need to know that?” when it comes to spending habits and money mindsets, this would be it. Take advantage of it. The more you know about their money moves, the more clarity you’ll have about whether they’re a good fit for you — or not. Ask every divorced person you know how right I am on this one. They’ll tell you.

What Their Family Dynamic Is Like

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Family. Whew, chile. I remember when a guy — a guy who is now divorced, mind you — used to very arrogantly say, “I didn’t marry my wife’s family. I married her.” And while “leaving and cleaving” (Genesis 2:24-25) should indeed be a focus in any marriage, if you think that the person who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with will not have their relatives impact you on some level… “delusional” is a kind word for me to use. Listen, even if they are estranged from their family or their loved ones are deceased, the influence of those dynamics is still going to have a direct effect on you, one way or another.

That said, since most people are not in those “exclusive clubs,” if you are going to spend, at least a part of the holiday with your bae’s people, you need to pay close attention to how things go down. How folks communicate. If boundaries are respected. How you are spoken to and treated. What the family traditions are and if you are comfortable with them. If you see any red flags, that could make it difficult for you to interact with his family moving forward — and these are just a few examples of where I am coming from.

You know, it’s interesting. Although a leading cause for divorce continues to be what I just stated (finances), I semi-recently read a Forbes article that said the lack of family support is climbing up the ladder for why so many marriages are falling apart. This means that the whole “you and me against the world” mindset is slowly becoming more challenging to maintain because, some folks are realizing that, even when it comes to sustaining a marriage, it can “take a village” as far as having a solid support and encouragement system goes.

Now, can a marriage survive when there is familial conflict? So long as both people have really healthy boundaries, sure. Yet why would you choose to have that kind of relationship if you can be with someone where there is peace and harmony instead? And so, if the two of you are gonna be with either or both of your people this holiday season, pay close attention to the family dynamics and interactions. Family will always reveal a lot. I’ve dodged some major bullets by taking this point to heart. Boy, do I have some testimonies!

How Open They Are to Compromise

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Even with all that I just said, there is gonna be at least one of these categories where you both are going to have to be at least a little bit flexible — and that’s why I’m going to close this article out on that point. Some people are so “me-centered” that they don’t want a relationship; they want someone who is gonna be their hype man or hype woman…nothing more. And someone who isthat selfish? That is someone who needs to remain single.

And what does selfishness look like? Just for safe measure?

  • Selfish people only care about their feelings, wants, and needs.
  • Selfish people are poor listeners.
  • Selfish people like to manipulate in order to get their way.
  • Selfish people make plans that involve you without consulting with you first.
  • Selfish people never know how to “go with the flow;” in other words, they are inflexible.
  • Selfish people take more than they give.
  • Selfish people like to hog all of the attention.
  • Selfish people are not considerate of other people’s perspectives.
  • Selfish people can’t take feedback and tend to not hold themselves accountable.
  • Selfish people are self-consumed.

And if you think that you can build a strong, healthy, and lasting relationship with someone like that? Chile, I don’t see how — or more importantly, why you would even want to.

Listen, NOTHING reveals selfishness quite like the holidays do. So, definitely take this final point to heart. No matter how much you care about someone, if they are showing all kinds of signs of being a selfish individual, that’s typically not something that you can just “love away.” Remember that selfishness is about getting more…so if your partner shows himself to be hella selfish over the next several days, it might be time to do some slowing down NOT speeding up the relationship.

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Enjoy this holiday season, sis. Just make sure to use it as the “magnifying glass” that it is.

The good that you see — awesome.

The challenges that you see — do not ignore them.

The holidays are trying to do you a solid. Thank them for it.

They’ve actually got you…more than you know.

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