Fall Forecast for Couples
Fall officially begins this year on September 22nd. And with it’s arrival comes so many things we love! Kids going back to school, changing leaves, fall festivals, Halloween, and Thanksgiving…yum!
Of course, this is the time of year when it seems like everywhere you turn someone has found a new way to use pumpkin which just seems wrong. But if you’re like me, you combat this by finding new ways to use sweet potatoes instead!
As fun of a time as it can be, it can also be a very stressful time for couples. Whether you’re just partnered or bound by marriage, fall can bring a certain kind of stress to your relationship for a variety of reasons. Read on to see how you can predict these changes and keep your relationship intact!
Shorter Days + Less Sunlight = Moodiness!
Autumn brings with it less sunlight and days that feel shorter which can have a real impact on moods. Less sunlight may lead to a moodiness and even depressive symptoms for some, especially for those prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder.
These mood changes can take their toll on your relationship without you even realizing what’s happening. If your mood tends to be negative around this time of year, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself interacting with your partner in different ways and your partner may take this personally.
Do yourself a favor now, before fall officially hits, and figure out if this may be an issue for you. Ask yourself, “does my mood tend to change around this time of year?” and “do I act differently with my partner when I have lower moods?”
If the answers here are “yes,” you’ll need to decide how to spare your relationship this kind of stress. For example, think about forms of self-care that tend to lift your mood. And think about ways you can communicate to your partner when you’re in a bad mood that doesn’t relate at all to him or her. A simple statement like this will do: “I’m feeling a bit down today but I want you to know it’s not because of you or anything in our relationship.”
More Time Indoors
Fall means more time indoors for many of us due to the shortened time of daylight outdoors, busier schedules, and cooler weather. This can obviously be good for your relationship, especially if you’re primary love language is physical touch;) However, this adds stress for a lot of couples as well since more time indoors may mean more time together and more opportunities for fights to erupt.
Instead of putting on your boxing gloves, use the extra time indoors to create more opportunities for connection in your relationship. For example, when the weather is bad, get a cozy fire going and curl up with each other, a movie, and wine. If you have kids, invite them to curl up with you too (or text the babysitter if you’d rather keep it to just the two of you!)
Also, communicate openly when you feel that you need space and time alone to recharge. It is better to do this than try to force yourselves to spend time together if you don’t have the mental energy to spend quality time with your partner and be attentive.
The Holidays Are Coming!
Fall brings the arrival of fun holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, but is also the beginning of the major holiday season that comes in December and January. And it’s no secret that the holidays bring on lots of family stress for nearly everyone!
It never fails that I get several clients worried about missing sessions around this time because the extra support is very much needed then. It also never fails that many couples find themselves having more conflict around this time due to the family demands for visits, gifts, and long-distance travel.
Don’t let this kind of stress sneak up on you and your partner! Anticipate it and find ways to deal with it when it hits.
For example, draw boundaries with family who may be unreasonably demanding when it comes to asking you and your partner to travel and make visits. Show empathy to each other if one of you feels caught in the middle of pleasing your family, while also pleasing your partner. Or try predicting what situations are likely to cause tension during family visits and find ways to avoid them, or deal with them differently this year.
Whatever you do, make sure to communicate openly to your partner about your needs and don’t assume he or she knows how you feel. We all deal with holiday stress differently and your partner may not know what you need to deal, or if they’re adding to your stress. So be open and direct, but kind!
If you find you and your partner in need of help getting through this fall, counseling can help! Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact me today to get started.
© Decision Point Therapy, LLC