Menu

Use the holidays to boost your relationship—not stress it out

5. Give each other some leeway... and tenderness

Use the holidays to boost your relationship—not stress it out

It’s common during the holidays to be so busy with parties, presents, meals, shopping, decorating—and every other form of hoopla—that our relationships end up taking a serious hit. Our love lives are left by the wayside as we become consumed with buying the right fishing rod for Uncle Joe, picking up Aunt Mae for Thanksgiving dinner, or figuring out how to hang a wreath on a door without an existing nail.


A variety of indicators—such as reported holiday breakups (pre-, post-, and during), an uptick in relationship status changes on Facebook after holidays, or divorce lawyers' phones ringing off the hook in January—suggest that couples don't just tend to ignore each other over the holidays, they also experience more conflict.

FEATURED VIDEO

The Gottman Institute indicates that when partners do small, everyday gestures of kindness for each other and engage with positive intention and presence, they "grow their emotional bank account," which acts as a source of stability and resiliency that protects them from the negative effects of conflict and stress.

Here are a few ways to ensure that your romantic relationship doesn't suffer, and that your "emotional bank account" continues to grow throughout the holiday season:

1. Plan at least one just-the-two-of-you date

You may be juggling extended family parties, cookie exchanges or work celebrations, but plan at least one romantic one-on-one date.

Couples who devote time to one another at least once a week on dates are more likely to have high-quality relationships and less likely to divorce. And couples who spend more time together also report higher levels of communication, sexual satisfaction and commitment.

2. Be of service together

Stan Tatkin, author of Wired for Love, argues that the installation of new happy memories is crucial to a strong relationship. One way to create happy memories is by volunteering or engaging in service together.

Visiting an elderly neighbor, shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway, buying coats for kids who need them, or making sandwiches for a shelter bonds you in a unique way and adds meaning.

The benefits of volunteering include improved physical, mental, and emotional health; lower stress levels; a deeper connection to others and stronger sense of purpose and greater happiness.

3. Create an annual tradition—just for the two of you

Think about one ritual you could repeat year after year that would add more joy to your relationship. It might be having hot chocolate together on a holiday after the kids go to bed, watching a favorite movie together every holiday, or running a 5K together on New Year’s Day.

4. Give unexpected gifts, words or gestures

When participants in one relationship study were asked, “What two things do you like best about your relationship?” they mentioned small words and gestures—like having their partner bring them a cup of tea in bed or cooking a meal for them. Thoughtfulness behind the reason for the gift and its meaning sometimes mean more than the gift itself.

Get your partner’s car washed, make them breakfast, rent their favorite movie from the library, or put a sweet note in their wallet. Rather than buying the exact blue robe requested, give an unexpected gift—one that took a bit of thoughtfulness and creativity. Research suggests that most people both prefer gifts that are unexpected and appreciate the gift-giver more when gifts are unexpected. For more ideas on kind relationship gestures, click here.

5. Give each other some leeway... and tenderness

Understand that your partner may be feeling stressed, emotional and exhausted during the holidays, and give each other some leeway: 44% of women and 31% of men reported that their stress levels were higher than normal over the holidays. Many people are tired, and lack of sleep can diminish your ability to manage your emotions.

Research suggests that couples fight more and have a harder time resolving conflict if even one partner slept poorly the night before. Having a few drinks can also fuel mood swings, angry outbursts or misunderstandings of someone's intentions.

Be gentle—support each other through stress instead of allowing stress to ruffle or erode your relationship.

6. Be proactive and don't keep score

Many couples are disappointed by unmet expectations—like when a partner doesn't buy the right present or doesn't want to stay at a party longer. Author Maura Kelly suggests asking your partner one question—a critical question that has the potential to turn around your whole holiday season with your partner: "What can I do to make sure this is a special holiday for you?"

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

FEATURED VIDEO

"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

Keep reading Show less
News