The holidays are the best time to spend quality time with your partner (said no one ever)

What if the holidays weren’t the most stressful time of the year?

Commercials and old Christmas movies tell us the holiday season is bursting with simple joys, fair tidings, and sugar-dusted gumdrops, but for most of us, November through January is about keeping our heads above water and making sure said water is glittered and at the exactly right temperature for the whole entire family (who are all coming to your house to sit around your perfectly decorated tree and eat your homemade food).

Scrambling to keep it together during the season can have its toll — especially on our romantic relationships. Even if it’s unintentional, it’s easy for our priorities to shift away from our partner and onto smaller things, like getting to the post office on time and what kind of Christmas lights to get for the tree, when society puts such an emphasis on holiday events.

But hark! It does not have to be so! With a couple deep breaths, a few tweaks here and there, and text reminders from Emi, the relationship app, you can make the holiday as meaningful as you want it to be. Here’s five tips on how to create space for you and your partner to give thanks for each other during the season.

1. Be attentive during family gatherings

We all have relatives who drive us crazy and old family dynamics we really don’t want to come up during holiday get-togethers with extended family. Chances are you know what those triggers are for your partner. At failing gatherings, keep an eye and ear out for things your partner has expressed concern about and check in with them if they come up. Showing that you’re paying attention is a chance to show up for your partner when they’re in a tough spot.

2. Stronger together (and apart)

On some days during the holidays, the to-do list could stretch all the way to the North Pole. Though it seems counterintuitive, splitting up to check tasks off the list could be the answer to a lot of holiday stress for you and your partner. Running errands separately means fewer tiffs about what color slippers to get the in-laws and less anxious waiting in line when you’ve got a list longer than Santa’s. Plus, you can meet up halfway through for coffee boost — a built-in date!

3. Saying no to them = saying yes to you

It’s not easy, but it is essential to turn down some of the invitations you and your partner receive during the season. Having less responsibilities means less stress, which is key to making the holiday work for you both. Discussing which events are most important to both of you early on can prevent additional anxiety, too. Less stress and fewer obligations also means a better chance for you and your partner to actually enjoy holiday parties and get-togethers and use them to bring you closer together.

4. Dollars and sense

Money is a tough subject for couples most of the time, but with all the buying during the holidays the topic can become especially difficult. Use the season as a way to practice being straightforward with your partner about your individual finances and the bigger picture as a couple. Taking a hard look at what’s feasible during the holidays could be a jumpstart for making a plan that works better for you both all year round.

5. It’s only once a year

If it all else fails, remember that the holidays are just a short time during what’s hopefully a lower-stress year. Sometimes it’s just easier to have a laugh at the lengths we all go through to make things perfect despite the fact that they almost never do. Just remember: you made it through last year, and you will again this year (and the year after, and that year after that…)!

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