ONE seasonal song describes the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year, and while this may very well be true of the season, there is no denying that the expectations and stresses that are associated with the season may cause relationship issues to surface which might put more than a little damper on the holiday spirit.
Below, relationship counsellor Wayne Powell shares some of the common issues which couples battle with in the holiday season.
The holiday season comes with a lot of additional expenditures, from projects to spruce up the home, to presents and entertainment. Holiday spending has the potential to be problematic, especially when one or both parties overrun their budgets, spend without consulting the other party, or when there is just no money or not enough to go around. Since it is such an expensive time of year, as a couple it is important to create the budget together, speak to each other before spending outside of the budget, and most importantly, try not to incur additional debt just because it's Christmas.
Disagreement on where to spend the holidays
When you are a couple it means that you inherit each other's family. This means that there is the possibility of a clash when it comes to deciding which family gathering to go to, especially since most families tend to have parties and dinners on the major holidays. It is important that couples compromise and learn to alternate holidays so that each person gets to spend time with their own family. If possible you should consider spending Christmas with one family and New Year's with the next.
Poor choice in gifts
It is important to listen to your partner throughout the year or you might end up making a poor choice in the gift department. Some couples fight because one partner's gift may not measure up, especially in the price department. If you are concerned that your partner might cheap out, then you should agree on a budget and set a minimum that should be spent.
Fighting with your in-laws
It's no secret that not all in-laws get along and the holiday season is a prime time for drama since families spend the most time together around this time. With varying opinions on different topics such as politics, ethics and of course the most common reason for disagreements — past issues with someone or a number of persons in the family — conflicts may be easily triggered. Therefore, you may want to stay away from discussions where there are known differences and learn when to walk away from a conversation that could easily result in flaring tempers and exchange of hurtful words.
Making time for family
The holidays are a time that many people set aside for family; a time when families share intimate time together away from the usual stresses. But especially with the commercialisation of Christmas, some jobs may demand that employees invest more hours and sometimes even more days, which often does not sit well with most families/relationships and may even result in break-ups because some partners believe that work takes priority in their partner's life.
Not everyone is crazy about Christmas and while one partner might want to treat it as a regular day, the other may want to attend Christmas parties, family dinners, decorate the house or invest in holiday portraits and cards. The answer to this challenge is compromise. Consider meeting your partner half-way. Even if you don't care for the holidays, be there for your partner as much as you feel comfortable doing. If the traditions that you are struggling with are rooted in an extended family tradition, then maybe you can consider alternating each year to suit your partner or discuss other possible solutions to the problem.