The Festive Season is supposed to be all about joy, romance and fun, right? But it can also place huge strains on couple relationships.
Every January I’m inundated with enquiries and cries for help from clients saying they can’t take another year in their current relationship, that they’re broken by the strains of Christmas and they’ve literally had enough of their other half.
The season to be jolly? Hmm…I’m not so sure about that.
I’ve noticed a few very troublesome pressures that come up for couples at this time of year. I wonder if any of these sound familiar to you?
There are just far too many expectations
We women expect a lot of ourselves at Christmas. We want to make everything perfect for our partner and family and everything feels like a rush. We also feel the strain because our partners seem to think we can access an extra boost of energy to do twice as much, despite the fact that by December many women are burnt out from juggling demands of our families, relationships, careers or businesses and we’d probably love to take a bit of time off just to have a good rest.
Finances cause extra stress
Couples often disagree about how much money to spend at Christmas. Perhaps your approach is to rack up the credit card bills and worry about the consequences in the New Year while your partner prefers to work within a tight budget, or vice versa. Maybe you worry about how you’ll afford the kind of Christmas you dream of but feel like you can’t tell your partner how anxious spending money makes you feel.
You spend more time together
While it should be a blessing to be able to enjoy the Festive Season with your beloved, the change in routine can take couples by surprise especially if you lead busy lives and you’re not used to spending so much time at home in one another’s pockets. Lots of couples report an increase in tension and arguments during December – I notice how the cracks in relationships can become much more present when couples are forced together for extended periods of time. You can use this as material for learning and growth or it might prompt you to start thinking about whether the relationship still feels right for you.
Okay, so along with the fact that you might already be challenged by late nights, the alcohol’s been flowing, you’ve over-eaten AND you’ve had to play charades one time too many with your annoying in-laws, it’s safe to say that the Festive Season can present a few bumps in the road for couples.
I’ve got three simple tips that can help you get through Christmas and New Year without needing to check in at your local Travelodge.
Stop feeling obliged
Sit down with your partner and create a schedule for the Festive Season that you can both happily buy into. This might mean cancelling a few engagements, negotiating less time with troublesome relatives and making some space for yourselves to do things you enjoy. There’s actually no reason at all why you should be obliged to spend this time doing things you don’t really want to do and then resenting each other for it. You can choose how you spend the holidays – yes, it’s true! Do it together and make it relaxing, joyful and fun.
Exchange a gift in private
Make an agreement you’ll exchange a gift in private on Christmas Day. You could also take a moment to write each other a short note of appreciation. When couples take a breath and come back to their centre it helps them soften and stop feeling so uptight. Remembering why you’re together, reminding yourselves that the Festive strains will soon be over and showing each other gratitude for how far you’ve come this year can help take the lid off the tensions that have started to brew.
Reaffirm your commitment together
Get out of the house for a Christmas walk or sneak out for a coffee. Chat about your shared vision for the future and make some plans for the year ahead. Couples who have focus, purpose and goals always get along better than couples who are pulling in different directions.
IF YOU’RE STILL TESTED TO YOUR LIMITS BY 2 JANUARY GIVE ME A CALL OR DROP ME A LINE – I CAN HELP!