Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but can be about as stressful a time as it gets for some couples. Over the holidays, the two biggest factors that cause this stress are time and money because Christmas is all about gift-giving and spending more time with our families than we usually do. The festive season can bring a certain strain to couples, especially if children are involved as it only heightens the expectations of having a memorable and magical Christmas. Not only are we dashing to the shops to buy the latest presents at the best prices, but we’re also busy planning how to catch up with each of our family members; whether it’s before, during or after Christmas Day, trying to coordinate schedules and even going away for the summer is hard work.
Add the crazy shopping experience where everyone is doing the same thing as you to ‘beat the rush’—creating an even bigger rush—and you’ve got one stressful time of year! Some couples just can’t withstand the added pressures and expectations when it comes to the holidays, which is why divorce rates spike during the festive season. Christmas time can bring out the worst in people due to these stressful situations, especially if things aren’t so peachy between your family or theirs. We shouldn’t blame Christmas itself for creating this friction in our relationships because it symbolizes what we do during this down-time – we reflect on our lives and the year just gone, it’s almost like a test of the strength of the relationship, especially one that’s been on the rocks for a while.
How Can We Get Through Christmas?
1) Change the routine
We’re creatures of pattern and comfort, but when things aren’t going so well it can be worse to go by the way you’ve always done things. Your yearly routine might actually be doing you more harm than good, especially if you are focusing less on quality time with each other and more on the ‘experience’ of Christmas. Rather than making plans to do the same mundane routine you always do, why not change things up and plan things you as a family can look forward to.
2) Be a couple first
Socializing is a big part of the festive season, but if you neglect your relationship it will only drive a wedge between you. Rather than using the busyness of the holidays be an excuse to put your relationship on the back burner, use it as a time to rekindle your love and focus on spending real time together.
3) Communication is vital
Do an activity you both enjoy or recreate a special date night you had – by rediscovering what you love about each other, it can make the festive time easier to handle. They say there is strength in numbers! Talking to your partner openly about what you both want to achieve this holiday season as well as figuring out a schedule together will allow you to be on the same page while avoiding any Christmas Day arguments about miscommunication.
It’s one of the easiest things to get right, but also to get wrong – communicating with your partner about your budget, calendar, and holiday plans will give you insight into what they expect and allow compromise. When you both see eye-to-eye you’ll be able to make better decisions when one of you isn’t around, such as your child asking for a particularly expensive present or running into a distant Aunt at the shops who insist on you coming over Christmas Eve.
4) Being grateful for the ordinary
Sometimes we have a certain vision in our heads but it doesn’t always work out; rather than magnifying things that are going wrong, focus on what’s going right. Meeting the holiday season with gratitude will only make it that much more magical, even if nothing in your life has changed.
If you’re reading this we can guess you have a roof over your head, food to eat in the fridge, access to clean water and clothes for the upcoming hotter days—along with somewhere to cool off. Christmas is a fantastic time to be with loved ones and those who matter most. But it can also be hard for those who go without. Appreciate your partner, children, family and friends this festive season – the greatest gift of all is having someone to share memories with. Over the holidays, the two biggest factors that cause this stress are time and money because Christmas is all about gift-giving and spending more time with our families than we usually do.
While you’re here, check Dr. Lurve’s advice on whether or not you can stay friends with an ex after a break-up.