The holidays are stressful. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July – any holidays can lead to a lot of tension. When you mix expectations, friends, and family it can get to be too much. Unfortunately when this happens, it tends to work against couples. The holidays bring about all kinds of issues, so we’ll take a look at how to deal with some of the issues that can come up during the holidays.
When the holidays come around, so do the in-laws. Often the fighting and arguing between a couple is due to the difficulty, fighting, and arguing with the in-laws. One person on the relationship will feel attacked if one of the in-laws says something and will get on the defensive and expect that their spouse will have their backs. This can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or flat out disagreements between partners.
How to Deal: An important way to overcome the struggles that you can have with your in-laws is to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page with how you do things together. This leads to less hurt feelings, and more support when things can get rough with your in-laws.
Also, keep the line of communication open and be willing to tell your partner what it is that is going on AND, most importantly, what you want or need from them in the situation. Remember: no one can help you unless you tell them what you want them to do.
If you want to learn more about in-laws and how they can add to the arguments and fight in your relationship, go back to that post here.
2: Jammed Schedules
Normally during the holidays there is so much going on! Fourth of July and Memorial Day, everyone is having a barbecue and they want you and your spouse to come. This can cause you to be pulled in a lot of different directions, not sure which one to go to first or last.
What generally happens is that couples will try to fit in all of the parties they were invited to and they get more and more stressed due to time frames, and all that they have to do. Instead of enjoying the time with each other and your friends or family, you are now running around town to get to different places all while getting more stressed. More stress leads to more irritation, which leads to arguing and fighting with your partner over small things. These small things can boil over into bigger things if you have not been putting in the time to correct them before.
How to Deal: As a couple, decide what is most important to you for the holiday celebrations like where to go or who to spend it with. Then develop a plan for how you would like to celebrate the day and the occasion while maintaining your sanity. Sometimes you have to sacrifice making everyone else happy to make sure that your marriage and you are happy.
3: Different Expectations
Different expectations between partners can cause fights and arguments. It is natural for both you and your partner to have different expectations about things, and that is OK! What makes it not OK, is when couples let their expectations act as a wedge between partners.
Expectations can range from how much time you spend with family versus friends, how much money you spend, or what traditions you will keep from each of your families and what you will change. All of these expectations can bring up argument and fights with your partner.
How to Deal: One way to work through these things is write down your expectations of the holidays early on in your relationship. This way, you can both brainstorm what is important to you and how you can compromise to make sure that both people are happy.
Sounds easy enough to do right? Sometimes it still may not be! When you are blending two family styles together it can feel downright impossible that you are ever going to come to an agreement on how to be a couple with your own traditions and style.
Don’t be afraid to allow yourselves to create new traditions and experiences which your new family wants to have be a part of your lives. The problem tends to come up when your respective families push to make you feel bad about the decisions that you as a couple have made. Stand firm and stand together, this way you will get through it with little fighting.
Generally arguments about money come up most during the Christmas holiday but it can rear its ugly head at any event. What tends to happen is one person wants to spend a lot of money of gifts or parties and the other person does not see the same need or they feel like the money is not there to spend.
How to Deal: One thing you can do is set a budget and stick to it. Determine how much you are going spend on people and each other for presents and STICK TO IT. Many couples set a budget then go over it which can cause fights and arguments again. It is vital that you both are in agreement with the budget and agree to stick to it.
Along with the budget, talk about what both partners’ expectations are for the holiday. Is a holiday party important to one of you and not the other? Is it a full out holiday bash? Or is it a small get together with a few friends? Be willing to compromise so that both people are feeling like they are getting a say in what and how the holiday plans will play out.
5: Individual Stress
If you are feeling stressed yourself, chances are this stress will be taken out on your partner and vice versa. Often times we can put unnecessary stress on ourselves which causes irritability and tension between partners.
How to Deal: It is important to take care of yourself during the holidays by sleeping well, cutting yourself some slack, exercise, eat well despite temptation and take time for yourself when needed. Read more on how to care for yourself during holidays here.
In addition to these stresses of the holidays and how they lead to couples fighting and arguing, I want to give you some tools and tips that you can use individually to help manage the holidays and be better able to enjoy it with your partner. Here are the tips for you to work with the holidays!
- First and foremost you need to get good sleep! This time of year is full of busy shopping days (picture Arnold Schwartzenegger in Jingle All The Way), family get togethers, early mornings, late nights, and lost sleep to clean, shop more, and generally do more! In order to be able to handle all of those activities and stress, you need to make sure you are getting restful sleep each and every night. So when you go to bed, turn off Home Alone, put down Santa’s list, and work on getting a good restful 6-8 hours. Try and do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time night in and night out.
- Put down the white glove when cleaning your house! Sooo many people make their house spotless before the holidays. They spend days prepping their house to make sure that people visiting do not see the chaos that is our lives. My idea is that my house will be clean but not perfect, after all I live there. Believe me, I would love for my house to look like something that Chip and Joanna Gaines just featured in their latest episode of Fixer Upper, but I know that is not possible. I could spend a lot of time cleaning to make sure everything is spotless, and have it cost me a lot emotionally and personally. Or, I could embrace that I am not perfect and my house wont be either, and if someone has a problem with that, do I really want to spend the holidays with them anyway??
- Start your own traditions! The holidays are always seen as the perfect time to dust off Aunt Edna’s china and tell the same rendition of old stories that your uncle has told year in and year out, but this can wear on you after a while! Don’t be afraid to begin to make your own traditions as a family or just as yourself. This may be met with guilt galore from your family or friends, but you need to do what is going to make you happy. So if your family always gets together for Thanksgiving, maybe you make your own Thanksgiving feast for you and your immediate family. Or, maybe with Christmas you take Christmas morning as your own time for you, not anyone else
- Speaking of time for yourself, family get togethers are a part of the holidays just as much as pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce (homemade or from a can is a whole other argument for a different day!). Make sure you set aside time for yourself while with family and friends. This can help to reduce your stress level and help you enjoy the time you are spending with the around you. Taking time for yourself can be as easy as taking a long bathroom trip, running out to the store to pick up something, or just going for a walk. Do not be afraid of setting aside self care time, family will be there when you get back and your sanity will last for just a bit longer that way!
- Exercise! Nothing beats going for a walk or taking a class at your local gym. Not only are you burning off the extra serving of pie, you are doing a great job of reducing anger and depression symptoms. When you are with family and they start to get to you take a step away for a bit and walk, you will feel better and be able to handle more in the long run.
- Offer to help. This can be a good way to get your mind off of family stress and drama and give you a way to distract from what is bothering you. Plus, you are opening the door to creating some lasting holiday memories for years to come!
- Be aware of your alcohol! Alcohol and the holidays go together ……..well like alcohol and the holidays. We usually turn to alcohol as a way to cope with the stress, anxiety, or depression that often comes with the holidays. This type of “coping” often leads to making those feelings worse and worse, which leads us to reset the holidays even more. So do be aware of your consumption this season, this will lead to a better outcome for you and those around you!
The holidays are meant to be a time of relaxation, fun, family, and your partner. Don’t make it become something that causes fights and arguments, or at a minimum, reduce to chances that a fight will happen. Use these tips to care for your relationship and yourself.
Holidays don’t have to be stressful if you and your spouse are intentional in making each other’s happiness a priority and supporting each other through the hustle and bustle. With the above strategies, hopefully the next holiday can be less stressful and more enjoyable!
Until next time – live truly, love fully!