My husband Xander has the patience of a saint.

At any time of year, but especially at the holidays. Because I tend to get a little, well, let’s just say difficult, around the holidays!

Here is a list of actual things I have gotten upset about during the month of December:

• Xander not being “excited enough” about getting a Christmas tree.
• Xander not liking to make a holiday wish list for himself.
• Xander not being as maniacally excited about buying gifts for other people as I am.
• Not having enough sex, even when I was sick and had no business having sex.

Being my husband in December takes a lot of patience.

Although I’m embarrassed to share this list, I’m doing it because I know that you can probably relate. For one reason or another, the holidays turn us all a little nuts and make us all require a lot of extra patience from our partners.

I’m dedicated to helping your relationship thrive – not just survive – during the holidays, and to set 2019 up to be the best year for your relationship yet!

So this month, I’m sharing four gifts your partner REALLY wants this holiday season, and continuing my absolutely free, 31 Days, 31 Ways challenge, which will give you small, actionable ways to prioritize your relationship every single day.

The gifts your partner REALLY wants this year

This week’s gift is the gift of patience.

(Want a reminder of last week’s gift? Click here)

Regardless of how you feel about the holidays, or what you do during the holidays, they’re just an insane time for everyone.

So many couples squabble and bicker throughout the entire month of December, and start January on a really bad note.

One of the best gifts you can give to your partner this month is patience.

Since you know I’m all about being practical, let me give you a few actionable tips for how to do this.

Ask for patience beforehand

First, try to think about how the holidays will be challenging for you, personally. What drives you crazy this time of year? Why might you need some extra patience from your partner?

Here are some questions to consider:

• Do you know of any upcoming events that are going to be stressful for you?
• Will you be seeing any people who usually trigger or upset you?
• What stressed you out about the holidays last year?
• Any other weird holiday dynamics?

For example, maybe your sister is visiting and the two of you always fight about politics. Or you know you’re going to be grumpy all month long because you hate the holidays and you can’t wait for it to be January already.

Next, share your lists with each other, and ask for some extra patience around the specific things you came up with. For example, “OK, so you know that I start the holidays with the best of intentions, but I usually get a little obsessive about trying to find the perfect gift for everyone, and wind up turning into a grinch. If that happens, can you try to have a little extra patience with me?”

Of course, you can’t predict every single issue, (I certainly never thought I’d be a jerk over weird things like Xander’s attitude while Christmas tree shopping…) but this conversation can go a long way towards keeping you both sane.

Remind yourself to be patient

Next, come up with a way to remind yourself to be extra patient with your partner this month.

Trying to be patient with our partners can be really tricky because that patience is required in some of the most frustrating and annoying times!

Patience isn’t required when the two of you are rocking out in the kitchen together, blasting your favorite jams while you make Hanukkah latkes.

It’s required when your partner is having a full-blown, toddler-style tantrum over the fact that you forgot to buy gift wrapping bows!

So it can really help to find a way to repeatedly remind yourself that you’re making an effort to be extra patient with each other this month. Here are a few ideas:

• Remind yourself of this post! You can say to yourself, “I’m doing that thing Vanessa suggested, where I give the gift of patience to my partner.”
• Remind yourself why your partner deserves your patience. For example, “I’m giving my partner the gift of patience this month, because even though I feel like they really don’t deserve that gift in this moment, I know that they’re usually an exceptionally kind person who shows me a ton of patience!”
• Set a reminder to go off on your phone a few times a day. It can simply say, “Patience.” The more frequently you think about patience throughout the month, the easier it will be to remember in the stressful times.

Thank your partner

Whenever your partner shows you some Xander-level patience, make sure to thank them! We all love being acknowledged and appreciated for our efforts.

Say something like, “I can tell how patient you’re being with me right now, and I really appreciate it.”

Practice forgiveness too

OK, so I’m kinda sneaking in one extra gift here… forgiveness.

The thing is, even with your best efforts this month, you are going to have times when you lose your patience with each other.

It’s great to put effort into preventing fights from happening in the first place, but it’s also important for you to recognize that fights are inevitable in any relationship.

That’s why it’s important to develop good skills for reconnecting after a fight, forgiving each other, and moving on.

This is something so few couples learn, and that’s a serious mistake! (Maybe this should be a monthly topic for 2019…)

As part of your conversation about patience, talk to your partner about how the two of you can make up after things go off the rails.

After you and your partner have had a disagreement, what do you need to feel better? How can your partner express their forgiveness?

Maybe you like having a long hug and saying, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” to each other. Maybe you like to have a discussion about how you can handle the situation differently in the future. Maybe you like going on a quick walk around the block to clear the air.

Whatever it is, make a plan for how you can forgive each other and keep moving forward.

Have you gotten into any embarrassing holiday fights? Help me feel like less of a goober by hitting reply and sharing your own stories!