With end-of-year targets, entertaining, and gifts to buy, stress levels often hit a fever pitch during the holidays. Unfortunately, the people closest to us usually bear the brunt of this emotional burden, which is why it's particularly important to be aware of what licensed marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson called the "top three relationship killers."
It might sound dramatic, but Jackson insists that in her experience, these three stressors can be detrimental to relationships if not handled carefully. In an interview with Well+Good, she explains the three signs every couple should be aware of, and relationship experts weigh in on how to tackle the issue when it arises.
The Issue: "When you feel like someone is not taking your thoughts and feelings into consideration, is not actively listening to you, or only wants to get their point across, it can lead you to feel lonely, misunderstood, and often angered."
The Fix: Put your phone away, face-down when you're having a discussion with your partner to show that they have your undivided attention. Try to use phrases that identify behavior that makes you feel ignored, rather than make personal accusations.
The Issue: Lifelab founder Tristan Coopersmith and Evie Shafner, LMFT agree that this creates the most strain in relationships. "There's this misconception about the committed relationship that it's the place to get all of your attachment needs met, and that your partner is going to become this ongoing reflection of our lovability," says Shafner.
The Fix: Avoid criticising your partner and change the way you mentally frame their behavior. "If your partner values decadent food and you value clean eating, criticizing them for their choices creates disrespect and distrust in the relationship," says Coopersmith.
The Issue: "Sexual frequency is a top source of stress and conflict for my clients," Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D., tells Well+Good. "Even those who want to have more sex have difficulty carving out time to do so."
The Fix: Know that every couple is different, and there's no ideal frequency to have sex with your S.O. "The quality of sex is much more important than the quantity of sex, and intimacy is more important than sexual intercourse," clinical sexologist Ava Cadell told MyDomaine. "As long as couples are kissing, hugging, and being kind to each other, sex will follow in a healthy amount."