Although the holidays have been called the “season to be jolly”, many couples have found that Christmas – more than any other holiday – can put considerable strain on a relationship/marriage. But why is this so?
There are a number of factors that can make the Christmas holidays stressful for a couple. Some of these factors are and how they may be resolved…
1) Indecision and/or lack of unity and agreement in decision making
Christmas is a time of making major decisions that can have an impact on the first few months of the year. Questions, such as “How much are we going to spend?” and “Where shall we go for the holidays?”, can lead to conflicts if a husband and wife cannot make decisions as a couple and one is forced to give in to the desires of the other.
Even months before Christmas, plan in advance what you are going to do for the holidays. Examine your budget so that you will know how much money you can afford to spend. If you’re planning a trip on the holidays, ask your spouse if he/she is agreeable with your plans.
In all matters regarding the holidays, listen to each other and offer suggestions until you come up with plans that are not only agreeable to the both of you, but you need to also be in agreement to see it through.
2) Conflicts during the year that have remained unresolved up to the holidays
Have you had an argument or a fight that proved to be difficult to forgive and/or let go? Believe me there will be more to fight about during the stressful holidays when you cannot let go of grudges. Sit down with your spouse and make the effort to patch things up with him/her before the holidays roll in.
If necessary, you may want to talk to your spouse about going for marriage counseling. You both need to work together to get through the holiday stress, so get rid of lingering hurts and grudges before Christmas rolls in.
3) Conflicts on how to make the kids happy during Christmas
Christmas may come only once every year, but that expensive toy or gadget that your child is pestering you for may have significant impact on your finances in the New Year. Early on, decide how much you are planning to spend on Christmas gifts to your kids. It is also important that you impress upon your children your financial status. The more they know just how important money and spending it wisely is, the more they will be understanding and not pressure you into buying expensive Christmas gifts for them.
4) Financial strain of gift giving
Let’s state it out right. You don’t have to give gifts to everyone you know. Trim your gift giving list down to only those people who mattered a lot to you during the past year. It could be a friend who saw you through a tough time or a colleague/boss who helped you with an important project at work.
5) Familial pressures to join family gatherings/reunions
Your own family can be very stressful. We’ve seen enough movies wherein family gatherings deteriorate because an in law or a brother or sister can’t hold back whatever resentments they are harboring toward your spouse. There’s also the matter that there’s this pressure of showing your family that you and spouse are doing well, if not better than relatives who are also attending the reunion.
If you know that going to that family reunion will strain your relationship then don’t attend. If you have no choice but to go to that reunion, don’t create a false front of happiness and prosperity. Instead, stand up to your family and be happy and proud of what you have achieved, small or humble as they may be.
6) Social pressures to attend holiday parties
Same as family reunions, you don’t have to attend all those Christmas parties that are being thrown by
your boss or colleagues at the office. Just attend that one party wherein everyone at work will be in the same place at the same time.
7) Spend a day or two of quiet time after the holidays.
Once the holidays wind down, enjoy a quiet moment with your spouse. Send the kids off to a friend’s house or have a nice dinner in an inexpensive restaurant. Congratulate yourselves on surviving the holidays and resolve to make the following year better for your relationship.