How To Ask Your Partner For Help This Holiday If You're Overwhelmed
Sure, it might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also by far one of the most stressful seasons, too. And sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot to start a fight during the holidays. From your partner placing the star on the tree crookedly, or forgetting to mail the family's Christmas card, suddenly, boom: It’s game on, Grinches. Thing is, as much as you might want to do it all yourself, you just can’t. That’s when you need to know how to ask your partner to help this holiday season when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Chances are, you might not even realize that you’re feeling overwhelmed. But if you consistently feel out of control, stressed, sad, (or worse, angry and agitated), then there’s a good chance that you could start spiraling, warned Help Guide. “Asking for help can be overwhelming because you may want your partner just to know what needs to be done,” Dr. David Simonsen, Ph.D., LMFT, a psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. “This ‘mind reading’ will cause fights between you and your partner.” That's why learning how to communicate effectively when it comes to your needs can help your relationship, no matter what time of year it is.
So learn how to divvy up the holiday duties — and ditch the disagreements — with these tips.
1. Be Clear About What You Need
Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner could just tell by looking at you that you need them to brush the kids’ teeth because you’re too tired? Well, it doesn’t work that way, sadly. “You need to say, ‘I am feeling overwhelmed. Can you sit and listen to me vent? That would really help me,’” Shelly Kessinger, LPC, a marriage counselor in TX, tells Romper. Sometimes just venting can help reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed and put things in perspective.
2. Apologize To Your Partner If Necessary
Your partner forgot to send your kid to school in pajamas for Dress In Your PJ’s Day. Or it slipped their mind to buy your child’s teacher a present after you reminded them 10 times to do so. But instead of being pissed off, practice some compassion instead. “It’s important to not blame or make excuses for your behavior,” says Kessinger. “Just say a simple apology, like ‘Honey, I'm so sorry,’" whether you were the one who made the mistake — or lost it when they did.
3. Check In With Your Partner
When you feel like you’re drowning in your to-dos, it’s hard to have perspective that you might not be the only one who’s feeling that way. Chances are, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, your partner probably is, too. So check in with them to see how they’re really doing. “If they say yes, then commiserate with them,” says Kessinger. “And if they say no, then ask them what they do to cope.” Maybe you can pick up a pointer or two on how to better manage your stress.
4. View Your Partner In A Positive Light
During the holidays, it’s easy to view your partner as a foe, and not a friend, Jonathan Friedman, a relationship expert at Frame of Mind Coaching, tells Romper. “In this stressful time, are you looking at your partner as an enemy standing in the way of achieving your goal, or as your most valued ally?" he asks. "Take a step back and pivot your thinking towards a loving direction so that you assume your partner has your back every step of the way.” That way, you can focus your attention towards your wants and needs and share them with your partner in a positive way.
5. Suspend Expectations
When you’re in the throes of holiday craziness, you can’t expect your relationship to stay the same. So you’re going to have to cut each other some slack when it comes to what gets done — and what doesn’t. “During the holiday season, it’s reasonable to suspend relationship expectations and simply ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed,” says Dr. Simonsen. Remember, no one is keeping score as to how many times you need help; after all, you're both in this together.
6. Understand The Impact
If you thought that you could shoulder the responsibility of getting everything done for the holidays on top of your already bursting-at-the-seams schedule, think again. Doing it all is going to make you feel overwhelmed, for sure, but it can also do damage to your family. “It’s important to understand how not getting this help will impact your children and the relationships around you,” advises Dr. Simonsen. Meaning, if you feel like you need to do it all (but become a Scrooge in doing so), it might not be worth it if it’s only going to create more stress to your entire family by trying to do it yourself.
Asking for help during the holiday season is inevitable. And while asking for this help can be hard, it’s also very necessary so that your holiday season leaves you feeling exuberant — and not overwhelmed.
Dr. David Simonsen, Ph.D., LMFT, psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist
Shelly Kessinger, LPC, marriage counselor