Hands up if you love compromising… Nope, me either. But it is an essential skill for a happy relationship, and particularly useful at Christmas time. The holidays are all about family, togetherness, and tradition.
With so much expectation on your shoulders, there is a bit of relational navigating to be done. A new marriage has enough pressures already. So do not let Christmas be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Here are five things to go into the season prepared for.
1. Humans are creatures of habit
We all have our own traditions and routines. Changing them to compromise with somebody else can be really challenging. How about changing your language around this? Rather than ‘compromising’ on old traditions, why not think of it as creating new ones with your partner?
2. It is cold outside
When it is dark and chilly outside, we are trapped indoors together. There can be a little too much togetherness; leading to cabin fever, then leading to bad moods and arguments. Make an effort to get outside – be that together for a change of scene, or separately for a little alone time.
3. The expense of it all
Money makes us tense. Although shopping sprees like the pre-Christmas ones are often fun in the moment, the high does not last for long. When we come down from the thrill of the splurge we often feel guilt, remorse and even fear for our credit card bills to arrive.
Money truly is a main source of couples’ arguments. Be careful not to let it get out of control. Discussing a festive budget could be a good way to pre-empt later woes. It can also reduce your anxiety around what you are ‘expected’ to spend on your other half. Let’s be honest, we might not say it out loud, but we all secretly dread being the person who spent the least. We do not want to look like a scrooge.
4. The in-laws
This is usually the biggest area of compromise. Often, one half of a couple will feel they have compromised more than the other, leading to tension and resentment. If you have to make the tricky choice each year about whose parents to spend the holidays with, then in the first year of marriage the pressures are somewhat amplified.
Somebody will always have to be the outsider; the guest in the in-laws’ home, all while missing their own family. It is never easy. My suggestion would be to have your first Christmas as newly weds by yourselves, making your own traditions and most importantly, being on neutral territory.
However, if that is not possible, then make sure you talk to your partner about any worries you have. Whether you stay with his parents, or him with yours, somebody will always feel that they are compromising the most. Try to communicate before resentment builds and turns into arguments. And remember to support each other.
5. Expectation and stress
Stop trying to be perfect. Everything from magazines and TV to peer pressure makes us feel that Christmas Day should be a lavish production. The presents have to be opened at the perfect time, the house should be cozy, clean and tidy.
Do not even get me started on how anyone is supposed to have an entire Christmas feast served all at the same time, all at the perfect temperature, without even breaking a sweat. It is all a bit too much and we forget to have fun with each other.
A marriage is a two-person commitment, so share the load and take some stress off yourself. It will not only help you but it will help you both. Relax a little, try to have fun, and just remember to communicate.