Managing relationships during the festive season
Whilst many people look forward to the Christmas season as it can be fun and exciting, it can also bring stress. Arguments can arise quite easily, especially when it involves spending time with extended family, or arranging times for children to spend time with the parent they are separated from.
The media shows us adverts of perfect families all enjoying the perfect meal, in the perfect surroundings, opening the perfect gifts. This can lead to higher than achievable expectations from feeling you have to live up to these images, which can lead to stress when things don’t go to plan. Not all family members will get on well together, and excess alcohol can lead to old, unresolved wounds being opened up. Food can be overcooked, burned or dropped on the floor.
Remember that the most important thing is to try and focus on enjoying the season with goodwill, and it doesn’t have to be perfect! Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. It's important not to expect others to be what they are not. If you ignore this, stress levels will build, and arguments are likely to happen.
Work as a team
Planning ahead and working together, rather than it all being left to one person can make life easier. In that way one person doesn’t end up feeling exhausted, resentful and snappy.
Take time out
Its really important to take time out for yourself, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water between the partying.
Agree to disagree with others, or walk away and let it go rather than getting into a full blown discussion that could end up with a heated argument. If you know that certain members of the family don’t get on, try and have a chat with them ahead of the event, asking them to put their differences aside for the time being, and certainly monitor their alcohol intake, discourage the bar-person from offering more or continually topping up their glasses! At the very least ensure they are not sitting within firing distance of each other.
Extend the season’s festivities
Does everything have to be packed into two or three days? Why not spread the events over a longer period. It could be far less stressful for everyone, and children are less likely to be fractious if they are not being rushed from one set of parents or grandparents to another.
There is a real danger of overspending during the Christmas period. Expensive presents do not equal a stronger expression of love. Financial worries in January can lead to strained relationships, and dealing with debts is certainly not a great start to the New Year, and can fuel relationship disputes.
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.
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About Wendy Capewell
Wendy Capewell is an experienced integrative counsellor who specialises in working with those struggling in their relationships, either with individuals or couples. She has her own successful private practice in Hampshire.
By working with Wendy, clients find long lasting results. They have better understanding of each other and communicate better.