Christmas is supposed to be a happy event for families, but it can also prove to be a tricky time for lots of couples. In fact, figures from the Family Mediation helpline suggest around 1.8 million married couples consider splitting up over the Christmas period. And this doesn’t take into account the number of cohabiting partners who go their separate ways.
Lots of couples could do with a little relationship advice over the Christmas period, but just identifying the cause of festive tensions in advance can help you come up with ways to avoid arguments.
Follow our top tips and ensure your relationship makes it through to January unscathed.
What goes wrong at Christmas?
High expectations for the Christmas period can put extra pressure on your relationship. Things will rarely be perfect and it’s important to accept there may be setbacks along the way.
The best way to avoid major arguments at Christmas is to recognize that bickering will happen. When you’re cooped up in one house with irritating in-laws, over-excitable children, enough alcohol to open an off-license, and a Turkey that just won’t seem to cook, it’s almost inevitable that a few cross (or ill-judged) words will pass the lips of your nearest and dearest.
Of course, it’s easy to take them to heart, especially when you’re trying your best to make Christmas perfect for the whole family. But try to move on from unnecessary remarks as quickly and calmly as you would at any other time of the year.
TOP TIP: It often helps to bear in mind that Christmas is just another day; better than some, worse than others.
But it’s not just your own expectations that could put pressure on Christmas. No doubt your partner, children and extended family will all have their own ideas about what makes the perfect day. It’s a good idea to manage everyone’s expectations by communicating plans in advance; that way it’s less likely there’ll be misunderstandings, hurt feelings or dashed hopes.
TOP TIP: Agree on how much to spend on presents and don’t break the budget. It’s important to show a united front if you can’t give the children everything they’ve asked for. Although it can be hard to say no, running into debt over Christmas will only lead to more worry and arguments when the January credit card statement hits the doormat.
Everyone has their own ideas about how things should be done at Christmas so, if you’re spending it with extended family, prepare to be flexible. If you feel like an in-law is interfering, try giving them a small task that will keep them occupied and make them feel useful.
TOP TIP: If you’ve got a full house and need a break from everyone getting under your feet, why not arrange for the in-laws to take the kids out for an afternoon? Whether it’s for a walk in the park or a trip to the pantomime, it’ll give you and your partner a chance for some much needed ‘couple time’.
How can the CoupleConnection help?
This Christmas we’ve got lots of helpful advice articles to help take the pressure off couples. Try reading our guides to managing the cost of Christmas, dealing with the family, spending time with your partner, and, if you’re a new couple, planning your first Christmas together.
This year the Relationship Forum has been very popular with CoupleConnection users keen to give and receive advice – so why not share your Christmas experiences with others and see what support the community offers up?