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Party's Over
Dr. K answers a couple's inquiry on how to start the new year right by avoiding confrontation during the year's first party.

My husband and I love to celebrate the new year by going to parties and hanging out with our friends. The problem is during these get-togethers, in the past things have soured and our year starts with an argument.

Though New Year’s Eve is certainly the grand party of them all, the situations that arise during this day are things that can happen at anytime of year and bring about lots of upsetting feelings, not to mention disputes.

Since two people in a relationship are different, it’s quite possible that when they go out to socialize, their expectations and needs will also vary. It may very well be that one of you likes to go out and mingle while the other doesn’t find the activity to be a favorite.

But even if you both enjoy getting together with friends at a large gathering, there are many possible snags that may arise. I’ve often heard the complaint that one feels abandoned by their mate. It’s as if they’ve come together but the partner is off the whole evening interacting with everyone but you.

A particularly upsetting situation is when it seems that your partner is flirting with others at the party. Or, if they aren’t flirting, gestures are being made toward them that aren’t being averted.

A common gripe is if one of you drinks too much. This, of course, gets compounded if there is behavior that accompanies the drinking that is embarrassing.

And, then there’s the proverbial, "I’ve had it and I want to go… now!" but your partner just doesn’t respect your wishes.

So, with all of these potential hassles, is it even possible to go to a party and have a good time? Well, a little bit of planning can help smooth the way. I’ve always found it best if you have a conversation preventively.
  • Discuss your expectations; how each of you would like the evening to play out.
  • Let your partner know if you need more attention at the party, especially if these are people with whom you’re not comfortable. Be specific about what you’d like. For example, make sure you stay with me as we come in and say our "hellos" or make eye contact with me every so often.
  • Remember to be attentive to your partner. Do spend time with them at various points. Ask if you can get them something to eat or drink.
  • Be frank about your feelings regarding flirting and respect one another about this. If someone starts to flirt with you at the party avert the gesture and make this one of the times you reconnect with your partner to be reassuring.
  • If one of you in the past has ended up drinking too much, consider nursing drinks or drinking club soda intermittently. Before you go, agree on a signal where your partner can let you know if the drinking is being overdone.
  • Talk about a general time you’d like to leave. Again, come up with some private indicator to communicate to one another that it’s time to go.
Now, go out and enjoy yourselves. Taking things in stride will allow the both of you to have a great New Year.

And, from me to all of you—A Very Happy and Health New Year!

Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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