The holiday season can be a really fun time. But with financial commitments, the pressure of wanting to get it right, alcohol flowing and potential family conflicts, it can also be a hectic and stressful time.
We’ve launched The couples collective – a group of our members who’ve come together to create a booklet for members of the public that addresses some of the most common relationship problems, share top tips and explain how to seek couples counselling.
And they’ve shared their thoughts on the most common causes of conflict in relationships at Christmas time and how to resolve them.
Most common causes of conflict during the holidays
There are lots of reasons why conflicts can arise during the holidays. For example, if one person in the couple (or both) set high expectations, and everything has to look and be perfect, then this can cause pressures on the relationship and arguments can happen. And if it doesn’t go as planned, resentment can build up.
Another point of conflict can be alcohol. It’s normal to drink and be merry during the festive season. However, alcohol can increase the risks of arguments.
This year, possibly more than ever, holidays are likely to be expensive. Worries over the costs and finances can arise, leading to conflicts or fractures in a relationship.
Feel comfortable and confident to say ‘no’ if you’re being spread too thinly
The holiday season is a two-week period where couples need to spend time together, along with their families. A couple welcoming large numbers of family members during this period needs to be conscious not to take on too much, keep the relationship going and be aware of people outside of the relationship who can put added pressure on.
Allocate roles and responsibilities appropriately. Set aside the idea that the occasion has to be perfect to help manage expectations and be flexible. If you’re concerned about the cost, have a budget plan and stick to it. Manage your alcohol intake and be aware of how you respond to the after-effects of alcohol too. A lot of people feel low when they’re hungover, which can also impact relationships and cause conflict.
Be conscious of other peoples’ boundaries
Boundaries are essential within relationships, and everyone responds differently to busy social occasions like Christmas. Some people love the season while others like to have time out. Always respect your partner’s boundaries.
Take a little break
Check in with your partner and if one of you gets a little bit snappy or stressed out, allow each other to take a moment for yourself.
Remember you and your partner are a team
The holiday stress can get to everyone but working as a team will help you tackle the pressures of Christmas together. Make sure to find a quiet moment for each other as well.
To find a therapist who can help you with your relationship visit our Therapist directory.
Relationships advice from The couples collective
Our couples collective of BACP therapists share their top tips and guidance on how to navigate relationship issues. Download our booklet or read our online guide.
What is relationship counselling? How can therapy improve your relationships? BACP member Cate Campbell explains how counselling can help.
How to seek couples therapy
If things have got to the stage where you can’t talk to one another without getting upset or arguing, then maybe it’s time to seek professional support