6 Common Holiday Relationship Conflicts and How to Avoid Them
You and your sweet little peppermint stick — AKA your significant other — are pretty psyched about the holiday season. You’re going to make cookies together, spend at least three Saturdays bingeing cheesy holiday movies, and combine your individual decoration collections into one giant celebration of festive cheer. Holiday bliss, here you come! But it’s not all gingerbread houses and tinsel. Though you and bae may be experiencing tons of shared joy at this time of year, it’s also a period of high emotions, which means opportunities for arguments and misunderstandings to run rampant. We checked in with relationship experts to learn more about what kinds of issues can turn ugly for couples in the final months of the year so you can steer clear of them and focus on enjoying the festivities.
1. Family Time: You want to spend Christmas Eve with your parents… but bae makes a pretty convincing argument as to why their family’s December 24 traditions are the best. As you review your joint calendar for the holiday season, you may find yourselves constantly at odds about where and who to spend the various occasions with. The key to avoiding this conflict? Compromise, says licensed marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind. Set a clear plan at the beginning of the season for how to trade off holiday celebrations, and you won’t be arguing about the schedule on an ongoing basis.
2. Holiday Traditions: If you and your partner come from very different backgrounds, it’s likely that there’s not a lot of overlap in your seasonal traditions. In order to stop this from being a conflict, Maple Holistics wellness expert Caleb Backe suggests that you start some brand-new traditions as a couple. With new seasonal milestones to look forward to, you both may be less protective of your individual rituals, and you can each bring the best of your histories to the table.
3. Finances: It’s hardly a secret that the holiday season is one of the priciest times of year for couples and families. You have parties to throw, presents to buy, and festive holiday date nights to go on (ice skating, anyone?). Protect the partnership from financial squabbles in the final stretch of holiday shopping by communicating about money as much as possible earlier on. Psychotherapist Shelly Daniel notes that proactive communication about this issue will help you and bae establish shared expectations and remain on the same page through the new year.
4. Boozy Banter: When you or your S.O. have a drink (or three) in you, pretty much anything has the potential to escalate into a conflict. The holiday season is full of opportunities to imbibe, so you want to be more mindful than ever that drinking isn’t clouding your ability to communicate clearly. “We’ve all been in an alcohol-fueled fight, and it’s just as painful as the hangover, if not more,” says therapist Brie Shelly. “Discuss limiting your alcohol intake at parties and checking in with each other throughout the night by sharing a glass of water.”
5. Clashes With Loved Ones: Even if you think your whole family is about as perfect as they come, it doesn’t mean that your significant other is going to get along flawlessly with the crew. By the same token, you might find yourself not connecting with one of your partner’s loved ones. Since the holidays can involve a lot of family time, tensions have the potential to overflow. Author and relationship expert Lynn Gilliard urges you to consider the status of the relationship before you set yourself up for family clashes. If you and your S.O. have only been together for a short while, you may be better off celebrating holidays with your individual families of origin for now. Otherwise, face the situation directly as a team. “The person who may feel vulnerable around the family needs the full support of his or her partner for this to work out,” she says. “Don’t ever allow your family members to gang up on your loved one, because it will be an experience that they won’t soon forget.”
6. Unmet Expectations: “People have a romantic notion of how this time of year should be and feel unsatisfied if they cannot create the magic,” licensed marriage and family therapist Carrie Krawiec tells us. “Be realistic with yourself about what your family can accomplish and what is possible in terms of making memories. Don’t be discouraged by rough days or outings. There will be plenty of magical moments!” If a single moment of your holiday season doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t turn against your partner. Instead, come together and figure out how to do better next time.
What do you and bae argue about during the holidays? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)