Relationship coach offers foolproof solutions to the fights that happen every single Christmas
December. A full month of exhaustion, pent up frustration and screaming family fights. Oh. And peace on Earth.
Did you know that solicitors secretly call the first working Monday of January "Divorce Day" as couples land back into reality with a thump, having spent an entire holiday season bickering over cost of presents, ever-present in-laws and who's left doing all the dishes once again.
By the time you've grimaced your way through the endless worry about presents, relatives and traditions, even the most committed of couples can be at their wits end with each other.
But luckily there are ways to survive the festive fights and see you still happy and together into the new year. According to psychologist and relationship coach Dr Michelle Brody, there are a certain amount of common fights that we "all" have over the Christmas season, usually brought on by the stress of the season and all that goes with it.
But the good news, according to Brody, is that by simply recognising the pattern of these, you can nip the fights in the bud before they get out of hand.
Here are the ten most common holidays fights – and how to avoid them:
1. The mother-in-law fight. His mom hates your cooking—he says she's just being helpful.
How to fix it: Address her directly, with this non-threatening formula: "I feel [insert your feeling here] when you [her action here]. Please [what you want her to do]." Example: "I feel bad when you criticize my cooking. Please don't tell me my food is awful, even if you don't like it."
2. The money fight: You want to throw a holiday part, or buy great (AKA expensive) gifts for everyone. He says you can't afford it.
How to fix it: Create a budget in advance that takes into account all holiday-related expenses. Decide how much you'll spend on each category and don't deviate.
3. The 'Why am I doing everything' fight: Most likely started by women – after having done 97% of all the prep leading up to the holiday.
How to fix it: Often without planning it, partners tend to fall into routines, with each person doing certain tasks more than others,' says Dr Brody. Solve this by delegating task before December starts, and agree who will do what.
4. The location fight: He wants to spend the holidays with his family, you want to spend it with yours.
How to fix it: Find a compromise—which means both of you have to give a little. Maybe everyone can come to you instead? Or you will have to work out a rota where you spend one Christmas with one side of the family, the next with the other.
5. The 'not tonight, darling' sex fight
How to fix it: For many women, sex falls to the bottom of a long to-do list at Christmas. But try to remember that taking time to be close to each other is a great way to avoid fighting in many other areas too. Oh, and sex is a total stress reliever too. Dr Brody says that for many women, a man's persistent complaining about a lack of intimacy can come across as pressure, but avoiding sex can be misconstrued as rejection.
6. The travel fight: You over-packed, missed a flight or lost your luggage.
How to fix it: Travel is stressful for everyone, and in frustration, we lash out at the nearest person—usually our spouse. Try to avoid placing blame, that will never end well.
7. The annoying habit fight: The stress of Christmas can turn a lovable quirk into a full-blown war trigger.
How to fix it: When tensions are high, we are all more likely to get annoyed by the small things that wouldn't normally bother us. Try breathing in and out and counting till ten. Kindness, Dr Brody, explains, is key. "Accept tensions are high and try to focus on all the things you love about each other instead."
8. The gifts fight: You got him an iPad and he got you… a €50 All4One voucher
How to fix it: Discuss what type of gift you would love, and agree to set a budget long before you head out shopping.
9. The badly behaved children fight: Gifts, lots of sugar and bedtimes that are pushed back often causes tired, short-fused and hyper children at Christmas time. This, paired with disagreements over what constitutes a suitable gift, can quickly escalate into a big fight for couples over how this should be dealt with.
How to fix it: Remember that you are the parents and you are partners. Agree how things with the kids will be dealt with ahead of the festive season, and stick to the rules you agreed on. If you agreed in limiting sugar in the morning time, to let them have a little treat at night, stick to this, as giving in to their cries for 7 am cupcakes is breaking the agreement.
10. The exhaustion fight. One or both of you is exhausted—and you take it out on each other.
Now, it's the hap-happiest time of the year...