4 Compromises to Survive the Holidays with Your Spouse Making it through the holidays doesn't need to be a struggle. Find compromise with these tips. BY CATHRYN MORA
Flip the mindset of surviving the holidays to thriving by making smart compromises.
“ Consider carefully any involvement at Christmas parties where spouses aren’t invited.”
The holidays for some is a magical time of drinking mulled wine while wrapping presents to the tinklings of festive music. For others, it conjures of images of juggling divorced families, running around on Christmas Eve to find the exact Ninja Turtle your child wants, and overspending on your credit card—all combined with the impact of overeating and drinking.
If you’re leaning towards the latter, the festive season can have a negative impact upon your relationship and you could end up as one of the statistics of people who call a marriage counselor after the holidays.
But there is hope. Here are four ways to help survive the holidays with your spouse.
1. Be careful at holiday parties. Holiday parties can be both wonderful and fraught with danger. People are letting their hair down at the end of a busy year, they’re drinking, celebrating, unwinding with close friends or colleagues. Shocking statistics exist, such as this survey of 2,000 UK adults by high-street lingerie retailer Ann Summers where up 39% admitted to having sex with a colleague at the annual Christmas party—including some who were married—not to mention a few that turned into long lasting affairs. Not the most rigorous of data collection, but the danger is real.
Consider carefully any involvement at Christmas parties where spouses aren’t invited. Yes, you need to have trust in a relationship for it to work, but we’re all human and sometimes it’s best to avoid temptation. Both of you could make an agreement about what works for you, whether that be limiting alcohol or perhaps only attending parties where you can go together.
2. Make a financial plan. Disagreements over finance are a common cause for relationship stress, and the holiday season can intensify this. In addition to the pressure of buying gifts, you’re possibly hosting parties or family dinners or shelling out on a vacation.
If this is a risky area for you, it’s important to plan for avoiding this stress altogether. Try to put the expectations of the season into perspective. Having the biggest turkey, the best decorations, getting the kids a mound of presents or staying in a plush hotel are not nearly as important as supporting and loving your partner.
3. Be respectful to your partner’s family and their traditions. I know your mother-in-law might be a nightmare, and Uncle Jasper tells the same drunken story, but your partner’s family are important to him or her and letting your distaste arise at Christmas will never end well. Consider limiting your alcohol intake so you don’t let your real feelings show!
If you have a marriage with mixed cultures, you also might find it difficult to understand or embrace their traditions. Any reaction from you is likely to hurt your partner and could be detrimental to your relationship. For the sake of your spouse, read up on their family’s beliefs or simply aim to smile, be supportive, and enjoy this special time together.
4. Consider Christmas Day without the extended family. You might be surprised to learn that while all of the above are important, the number one cause of arguments prior to Christmas is the debate on where to spend Christmas Day… your parents or the in-laws? If your parents are divorced and remarried, forget about it. There’s suddenly up to five options for spending the day!
Couples can get so worked up about this, they can cause long lasting damage to their relationship. Often this is because we resort to personal attacks on our spouse’s family as a reason for not choosing their home for the celebration, and that takes everything to a whole new low.
I’ve known some couples who have chosen to spend Christmas Day at home. They spend Christmas Eve with one family and Boxing Day with another. It doesn’t make either family particularly happy, but it’s a compromise which sometimes works for couples who want to honor each other above all.
My recommendation this holiday season is to remember that once you are married, your partner is your priority. The love you share and the commitment you have made must come above all else for it to survive and prosper.
Cathryn Mora, Relationship Advisor and Creator of LoveSparkME