Facebook Pixel

How To Avoid Holiday Stress On Your Relationship

Rate This

More Videos from Howdini 30 videos in this series

Holiday stress can strain any relationship. Sometimes there’s so much pressure to have a great time that you make yourselves miserable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Family therapist Rachel Sussman shares her advice for how to avoid letting holiday pressures affect your relationship.

DENISE: Hi there, I’m Denise Richardson for howdini. We’re now going to talk about relationships and the holidays…how stressful both of those things can be. We’re fortunate to have with us a relationship expert. Her name is Rachel Sussman and she is a person who sees all kinds of couples and guides them through all kinds of times. Thank you for being with us. Christmas is a special time; we’ve taken the special out of Christmas. The planning and the gift giving. Talk a little about the stress on people as a result of the holidays because of marketing.

RACHEL: Holidays are very stressful for most people, but with all the marketing that’s gone into it over the past several years and so much pressure on having a perfect holiday, a perfect Christmas, and the perfect gifts, perfect children, and perfect relationship. Plus, everyone’s working. You still have to go to your job everyday and then around the holidays there’s shopping, there’s preparing, there’s just so much stress. Parties, we’re drinking more, we’re eating more, we’re sleeping less, maybe exercising less and taking less care of ourselves. So we’re stressed out to begin with. Now add to that you’ve got to be present and wonderful in your relationship. It’s a recipe for a lot of problems.

DENISE: There’s so many parties over the holidays and you take your special person to the party and they embarrass you. It can be a female doing the embarrassing, it can be a male doing the embarrassing. How do you handle the situation.

RACHEL: These situations happen at a lot of different parties and especially when alcohol’s involved and people are nervous. And here you are, you’re in front of your colleagues, might be trying to impress people, you bring your partner to a party and perhaps, unfortunately, they’re the brunt of a bad joke or maybe you get a little loud and abusive because you’ve had too much to drink and again, you know, very complicated, very difficult situation. And you know, I think the partner just has to be as grounded and gracious as possible being that it’s not their work setting and you don’t want to make things any worse than they are. But, I think you really have to wonder if you want to be in that relationship or is that a healthy relationship or if your partner is a healthy person if they’re going to treat you that way.

DENISE: How do you tell people to opt out of the scenario of “I’ve got run and shop, I’ve gotta get this great gift…I’ve gotta, gotta, gotta…” How do people step back from it so they don’t get stressed during the holidays?

RACHEL: Well, when I’m working with couples and it’s so clear to me that they’re stressed out and it’s the holidays and there is so much going on, I really tell them to just chill out, sit back, to try to remember what the holiday’s really about and if they don’t know what the holiday’s really about, this is an opportune time to create a new tradition with a new family—your own tradition. What do the holidays mean to you? And how as a couple or as a family can you celebrate it in a really joyous and healthy way.

DENISE: You know the aphrodisiac of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving for couples: let me be up at 6 AM so I can start shopping. It’s like the energy is towards—you’ve gotta do it or you’re not “worthwhile.”

RACHEL: Or you’re not worthwhile or other people are doing it better than you, or you know a lot of women think they can do everything and work. They can buy beautiful gifts and have a beautiful holiday supper. But, it can tend to be too much and that’s when couples need to sit back and talk to each other. How can they really help each other out and minimize the stress over the holidays. You know it actually is a fun time.

DENISE: So when this holiday season comes about you’re really working towards something together.

RACHEL: Yeah, you’re on the same page and you’ve got to have the communication skills so that if you’re not on the same page, someone calls a meeting and comes in and says, you know what, this isn’t what the holidays is supposed to be about, you know, I’m stressed out, you’re stressed out. No one’s enjoying this. Let’s sit back and figure this out and try to do it the right way this year.

DENISE: Or go see Rachel Sussman.

RACHEL: Absolutely!

DENISE: Thank you so much for being with us.

RACHEL: Thank you Denise.

DENISE: I’m Denise Richardson for howdini.

Howdini is life’s little instruction manual, in HD. We’re all about bringing together the top, most respected experts in their fields to help us be the best we can be at all of the little and not-so-little challenges of our complicated lives. Howdini is the place to be for the know-how you want, when you need it. Or maybe it’s the know-how you need, when you want it. Whatever. We’re here to help. So come in and look around, won’t you?

We think you’ll love finding everything you want to learn about in one convenient place, and as we grow and add more categories and more Howdinis, you’ll be doing less surfing and more learning right here. And unlike television, Howdinis aren’t limited by time—we don’t have to break for commercials, and we’re always on.

Who is Howdini?

People often ask us, is there an actual person who is Howdini? And the answer is, it’s kind of like Lassie. Just as there were many Lassies, there are many individuals who are called Howdini. In fact, each of our experts is a Howdini, and, like all those Lassies, they really know their tricks. (Although so far there is no ‘How to tell your master that Timmy is trapped in the old abandoned mine’ segment)

Our gurus are people you know and trust because you’ve been getting advice from them for years, at places like Good Morning America, The Today Show, Money, Prevention, and Food and Wine (to name just a few). Many are best-selling authors. Others, like our medical experts, are respected leaders in their fields.

Howdini History

The first Howdini was Joanna Breen, who left a comfortable career at ABC’s 20/20 to create a how to video website after one too many frustrating experiences with handymen who weren’t that handy. Joanna had traveled the world reporting with Barbara Walters and others on injustice, outrage, and tragedy, but now it was time to turn her talents to dealing with crises closer to home, like what do you do if you drop your diamond ring down the drain. Joanna is the quintessential can-do girl, so she didn’t find the prospect of launching a gigantic website the least bit daunting. (Ok, that last part isn’t entirely true.)

Joanna convinced an old ABC News buddy, Shelley Lewis, to join her. Shelley had supervised roughly 9.7 million helpful how to segments during a long career executive producing television shows like Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning. A self-described “info-pig” who loves all kinds of information programming, she is never happier than when she’s learning an amazing new tip that she can annoy share with everyone she knows. Needless to say, Howdini was a dream gig for her. A career woman, a wife, a mother, and author of two books, Shelley considers herself equally challenged by all the facets of her life.

Joanna and Shelley were introduced to marketing executive Alison Provost by a mutual friend who knew that Alison had what they needed - entrepreneurial experience, patience, and a checkbook that still had checks in it. Joanna and Shelley could see right away that Alison should join Howdini. They figured that they would take care of the programming, and Alison would bring trustworthy sponsors to help pay the bills. It took Alison significantly longer to be convinced, maybe because she was crazy busy running a marketing firm called PowerPact, which she continues to oversee while serving as the biggest of big cheeses at Howdini. But whether it’s playing Suduko or launching a new business in a field she knows little about, Alison loves the challenge of a good puzzle, It wasn’t long before she began dropping obscure internet terms like “user-interface” and “googlebot” into casual conversation.

What’s Next for Howdini?

Our goals are modest. Complete and total domination of the internet, crushing Google, Microsoft, and any other punks who get in our way. (Hey, it’s a just a goal.) But until then, we will content ourselves making the best, most professional, most credible how to videos you can find anywhere. We want to help you solve your career issues, your parenting problems, your money troubles. We want you to be more glamorous, healthier, and less stressed out. We want you to check Howdini every day for fun, interesting, useful advice from experts you know and trust.

We want to make Howdini the community you love to be part of every day, To do that, we need to hear from you. Please share your suggestions, rate and comment on the Howdini videos, and the blog, (The Howdini blog). Tell us what you’d like us to create for you.

And then, when we’ve achieved that, it’s back to working on complete and total domination of the internet.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

Relationships & Family

Get Email Updates

Relationships & Family Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!