Christmas can be a time of stress and conflict for many couples. We’ve got grand expectations and childhood memories that we either want to replicate or totally forget.
Our ideal notion of the perfect Christmas can ruin the holiday and cause havoc in our relationships. We want what we see on the movies! You know what I am talking about… we want the food to look and taste delicious, thoughtful romantic gestures, to feel loved and appreciated, laughter, well behaved children (and adults!), kind in-laws and EVERYONE having an enjoyable time, at the same time!
Yet we live in the real world! For most couples, even in the happiest most loving marriages Christmas can take a toll on the relationship. Whilst I cannot take away that stress, here are some ways to create more harmony and happiness during the holidays for you.
1. Work as a Team
Don’t try to take everything on yourself. Write a list of what needs to get done and then ask your husband to partner with you in tackling every item on that list. All too often we feel like we are expected to do everything and end up resenting our partner’s lack of help. If we don’t ask though we will not get. I love the saying “we are better together” Never is this so true when it comes to preparing for the holiday.
2. Create a Spending Plan
Together discuss what you are willing and able to spend for the holidays. Reaching an agreement on gifts, food, socialising and travel money, can keep arguments at bay. Christmas tends to be one of those holidays where we massively overspend. Typically, because the marketers are so good at making us think we must get that extra thing for the holiday. Christmas trees and advent calendars used to be enough for example and now it is decorations and food galore.
There is no shame in recognizing and saying if you can’t afford to do what you want to do this year or what you’ve done in the past. Let it be and find more cost-effective alternatives. When it comes to gifts most children will remember the one to one attention given, than the toy. I can’t remember much what my grandparents gave me, but I can remember the way my granddad used to play games with us. The fact is, couples who can agree on a budget, not only find an extra weight has been lifted from their shoulders, they reduce the chances of a blow up later. If you are worlds apart on what you want to spend, keep talking until you find a compromise. I have found working with countless couples now that most arguments around Christmas come back to childhood wishes, get to the feelings behind what you want, so you can often resolve differences quickly.
3. Carve Out Couple Time
I cannot tell you the amount of times couples will come to me and say, “we are having trouble communicating” and when I ask more questions, it is clear that the problem is they are not making time for each other, hence the poor communication. Text messages do not build closeness, love or togetherness. If you want to sail through the season, you need to carve out time for the two of you and be fully present when doing so. This means phones and screens away, to show affection, appreciation and attention to one another.
4. Don’t let family come between you
It is important to “have each other’s back” especially during busy and stressful times. We need to feel each other’s support when it comes to children, extended family and even work. Supporting each other’s roles in the relationship is critical during the holiday period. When it comes to family members it is key to remember that they won’t change just because it is Christmas. They can and will act in ways that hurt us or our partner. Use this holiday time to develop inner strength and become closer through it. Rise above any negative comments by letting them go. What helps me when my mum puts me, or others down is to say to myself that “only people who are hurting hurt”.
No one can touch your thoughts except you, so go ahead and think what you want, laugh to yourself and give yourself tremendous amounts of self-love as you navigate any complicated and negative family landscape. Also keep in mind that just as you cannot control what other people say and do, neither can your man control his family or work colleagues.
5. Take Time Out
Whether you are going back home for Christmas or having all the family visit you in Dubai it is essential to have a “get out of jail free card.” By that I mean having an agreement with each other that if the stress is too much and you need a break you support each other to escape. The excuse you use: going to the shops, headache or taking a phone call, doesn’t matter, what is important is resting and taking time for yourself when it all gets too much. You and your relationship will be in a much better place when you feel calm, centred and supported.
6. Keep your gratitude attitude alive
As hard as it may be at times, remind yourself that what we see on the sparkly Christmas movies doesn’t exist in reality. Love the imperfections of a true Christmas, whether that is over-cooked food, over-bearing family members, over-tired children or over-indulgence, forgive yourself and others, be grateful and live freely.
It’s during stressful times that we tend to forget about basic things like getting intimate. But this is the time when we need it most, as it releases stress and helps us be joined together as one in the most literal sense possible. If your man is distant in this area now, what better a time to get some new Christmas gifts to spice it up a bit.
With thanks to Nicola Beer who is an international best-selling author of 4 books and has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News Network, Huffington Post and Wall Street Select.
She has helped 1000’s of individuals from all over the world to single-handedly transform their marital situation, as well as couples to restore the love, passion, respect and happiness, that is so often missing when the connection and communication breaks down.
From 24 – 26 December I am offering 30-minute relationship support sessions for FREE. All you need to do is skype me on nicola.beer5 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a time slot. There is no charge, just someone to listen if you are feeling down, confused or stuck.