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Managing relationships in the festive season

Family picnic in park

Our lives are full of relationships – family, friends, and work colleagues just to name a few. We are creating or building relationships all the time. Some we have chosen, like our friends, while others are just there – you know, relations and work colleagues for example. These relationships can bring you a range of experiences including happiness, excitement, struggle and sadness.

Accepting and acknowledging relationships

Acceptance is a big part of having relationships.  It is about accepting who is in our lives, whether we have chosen them or not.  It is also about working out which parts of your lives you can share together; acknowledging that no one relationship can meet all your needs. We need many relationships in our lives to meet our many needs and interests. 

Reflecting on our relationships 

The holiday season is often a time when people reflect on their relationships; the good ones, the difficult ones and perhaps even the forgotten ones.  When family come together for celebrations differences in opinion can reignite, the loss of someone dear can feel more intense, and or a sense of joy can be experienced as you have time to appreciate the strengths in the relationships you share.

So, if your relationships are travelling well consider what you are doing for this to be happening, and keep doing it. You might also want to have a think about whether you have enough contact with other people.  As you are enjoying your current relationships do you want some more to develop?

But if that is not the case have a think why things are not going so well.  Is it something that you can change?  Has something happened, been said, or is it that you have strong differences in opinion with someone?

Planning enjoyable activities and keeping active

There might be something that needs to be talked about, or maybe it would help to spend more time together getting to know more about each other.  Or maybe when you spend time together the focus should not be what you talk about but what you do – plan an activity that you both enjoy and can share together.

And if grief is part of your experience then that will affect how you relate to others too.  It can feel strange to be happy and grieving at the same time – but that is often what happens. Being happy does not mean that you have forgotten about someone that you have lost; it is just about enjoying the moment for the good things that it brings.  

The other thing that can happen over the holiday season is that your usual social activities can 'break up' for a while.  If this happens it can sometimes be important to find other activities to try – keeping active physically and socially can make a huge difference to your sense of wellbeing.

Don't put yourself under pressure

And finally, don't put yourself under pressure about your relationships. The old poem about accepting the things that you can't change, and being realistic about what you can is a helpful way to consider your relationships.  They are enjoyed best when you have realistic expectations about who can be a part of your life, what they have to offer you, and importantly, what you have to offer in return.

Want to know more?

To help you find out more about relationships issues we have put together some relevant relationships links.  

This article is based on information sourced from Relationships Australia and Mensline.

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