Couples Christmas survival guide

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Published on: 23rd December 2019

For lots of couples Christmas doesn’t live up to the chocolate box image of joy, generosity and goodwill. Instead they experience stress, financial worries and pressure of expectations to make the big day perfect. If you can relate to these pressures the following points may be helpful for you to have in your festive survival kit:

It’s all about communication!

If your partners mind-reading skills or spider senses are failing (I know people can’t really read minds, we just wrongly assume they can), the best thing is to talk about what you both want from Christmas and work together to prevent any disappointments. Focus on what matters, be realistic with your budget with both of you agreeing on how much to spend, on what/whom/and where the money will go. So make sure you make a list and then check it twice!!

Family traditions 

We can all fall into a trap at Christmas of over questioning other people’s family traditions, particularly if they differ from our own perceptions of a family Christmas. This can lead us into conflict both within ourselves and with others. Learning to respect other people’s family traditions, continuing with good self-care habits and accept each other’s differences are key to navigating your way through a busy festive period.  Communicate what you feel or think, don’t bottle things up, and if necessary mutually agree when it comes to the amount of time spent with the in-laws.  Learning to accept difference really helps us to build tolerance and makes us more resilient in the face of difficult situations. In order to stay harmonious consider each other’s needs over the festive period.  For example, rather than agreeing to spend the whole of the festive period with your partner’s family, be honest if you can only manage a couple of days, considering a realistic compromise. If you anticipate a problem tell your partner you will need to take a walk or stretch your legs for a while.  This is also a good self-care strategy. The calming benefits of accommodating each other’s values and differences outweighs the effects of engaging in unhelpful conflict and trying (Often unsuccessfully) to change how others see Christmas. Showing appreciation towards the efforts that are being made is a far better use of energy and leads us to compliments rather than conflicts.


Keep a lid on how much alcohol you consume. It’s easy to go too far, in order to zone out away from the stress of Christmas, when you’re struggling with your mood. Excessive use and abuse of alcohol often adds layers of difficulty to already stressful situations. There’s a reason alcohol has such a reputation as a trouble-maker.

Trigger points

Plan for trigger points and when they happen, STOP! Take a breath, give yourself time to think before reacting and consider how your behaviours are being modelled to any children or people that you care about that might be present. Managing our emotional response to these triggers by focusing on what is important to us increases our sense of control even in the face of strong provocation.  These techniques have the potential to defuse unnecessary arguments and refocus our attention on what really matters to us in the longer term.   Choose your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff! Conserve you energy for when it’s needed like having fun! Opening presents and eating Christmas dinner! And drinking prosecco……in moderation!

Keep it simple

Traditionally Christmas is about togetherness and celebrating life. Rather than feeling you have to conform to the pressures of the festive period why not go back to basics.  Embrace the simplicity of Christmas and celebrate each other by recognising the good qualities each person brings to our relationships. Maybe challenge yourself to look for a few sparkles in the day and focus on the things that are going well.


Practice some positive self-care in the context of your relationships. Looking after yourself leads you to being more relaxed in the company of others and promotes better contact between family members than purely engaging in duty-driven activities. Asking each other what each person need to de-stress or self-soothe and respecting these can have a positive impact on our relationships as a whole. It’s not all about being active and having a balance of activities in our day helps. Give yourself permission to flop-out in front of the TV relax, recharge your batteries, dance, do whatever it takes to stay connected with others and have a wonderful Christmas.  

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