We Wish You A Merry Tiff-mas

29th November 2013

The Relate guide to avoiding arguments this Christmas

Alongside buying presents and baking mince pies, Relate is calling on everyone to put relationship maintenance on their ‘to do list’ this festive season.

Relate counsellor Judy Karr explains: “We all want to have a happy, relaxing Christmas with our families, but in reality it can be a stressful time. Lots of couples and families experience some of their biggest bust-ups over Christmas because there’s a lot of pressure on everyone. Common causes of arguments range from money issues over buying presents, to deciding where to spend Christmas and who’s cooking the dinner.”

Research by Relate found that over a third of parents argue at least once a week, with money being the biggest cause of rows. “And we know that the extra pressures of Christmas can be the final straw for couples and families on the brink,” adds Judy

Here are Relate’s tips for keeping the peace this Christmas:

• Plan ahead. Getting some of the jobs done ahead of time means everyone will be less stressed, and planning the festivities as a family is likely to make sure everyone feels like their hopes and expectations are being listened to. In particular, talk to your partner in advance about where you plan to spend Christmas so it’s not a shock to anyone come Christmas Eve.

• Don’t overspend. Money will be tight for many people this Christmas, so try not to succumb to the pressure. Splashing out on presents with the credit card might be fun but a mountain of debt is not a good start to the New Year. Money worries put huge strain on relationships – it’s not worth it in the long run.

• Think of the kids – and talk to them. Who goes where and when can be a huge issue for separated parents, especially if you are at loggerheads. Hard as it is, try and stay calm and keep your children’s best interests at heart. Talk to your children about who they want to spend time with. Youngsters can easily feel divided and guilty about where they are going to be and worried in case anyone is left on their own. Sit down with them and talk it through if they are old enough and if not, then try and come to an agreement with the other parent that works for you all.

• Plan something special. If arguments are likely, have a few special events that everyone knows about so you have things to look forward to. It might be decorating the tree, or hanging the stockings up. The important thing is that you agree that these things will go ahead, and everyone makes the effort to get along.

• Give yourself space. The oven’s on, the heating’s on, the kids are excited and everyone arrives at once. It can be hectic, and tensions can rise quickly, so plan in a little time to be alone and gather your thoughts. Fresh air is a good idea, or a hot bath on Christmas Eve when the children have (finally) gone to bed.

• Think of others. Remember family members or friends who might be alone, or who find the festive period difficult. Just popping in, dropping them a card, or giving them a call can really help, and makes you feel better too.

• Delegate. Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself. If you’re not careful, you can end up slaving in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying themselves. Share out tasks amongst your family and guests and make a plan of all the chores. The kids might not like it at first, but it will ensure you don’t get to the end of the festive season feeling like a nervous wreck!

• Go easy on the booze. We all like to toast Christmas with a glass or two, but if there is any tension in your family then steer clear of too much alcohol; it will only aggravate the situation.

• Have fun! Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself too. Remember it’s more important to have a good time together than to make sure everything is 100% perfect.

Relate’s free ‘Arguments Check-Up’ is an online questionnaire that helps people to find out about their own arguing style and their compatibility with other arguing styles. See www.relate.org.uk/argument-check-up

If you are feeling under pressure and would like to talk to someone,
why not call Relate to talk face to face with a counsellor:

Relate/Harrow: 0208427 8694 • Relate/Watford: 01923 241803

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