How to survive the Christmas period in a relationship

As we enter the festive period, we cannot help but notice others celebrating in their way, however, if you are in a relationship, you may cannot help but notice how other couples are with each other. 


This may be anecdotally, through social media, friends, work colleagues and then in turn comparing your relationship to theirs.

The questions are, can you make it through Christmas, will you make it through Christmas or is this Christmas your final one?

Recognising and addressing the underlying issues 

At the outset, it is important to realise that your relationship is not really about Christmas (although it can magnify and intensify it) but it means looking at what the issue(s) are with it. This means delving deep and uncovering what lies beneath the surface and asking yourself if is it communication breakdowns, unresolved conflicts, or a lack of intimacy. 

Here it is important (if possible) to have an open and honest conversation with yourself and the role you are playing in this relationship (for better or worse). Then once that has been done, an open and honest conversation is needed with your partner to see if anything can be resolved.

However, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds so seeking professional help for example here at Empowered Counselling Services may also provide valuable guidance and tools for navigating through these challenges together. 

It is vital to acknowledge that perfection is not attainable and instead focus on setting realistic goals for the Christmas period while considering the limitations within your relationship. Also being mindful to avoid succumbing to unrealistic pressures imposed by societal standards or comparing yourself to others who seem to have it all figured out. 

Establishing healthy boundaries becomes paramount as well; safeguarding your emotional well-being is key to preventing further strain on an already fragile bond.

Setting realistic expectations and boundaries

Did you know that during the holiday season, many struggling relationships face added pressure and strain? 

It is a time when expectations run high, and couples often feel overwhelmed by the need to have a perfect Christmas. 

However, setting realistic expectations and boundaries can make a significant difference in navigating this challenging period. 

By acknowledging the limitations of your relationship and avoiding unrealistic pressures, you can protect your emotional well-being and prevent further strain on your relationship. 

For example, are you a couple without children?

If so, it is important to realise where your relationship stands. It is important to remember that no material gift will fix the relationship especially if either or both of you are struggling financially.

If neither of you is struggling financially, it is again important to realise that no material gift(s) will fix your issue(s). This is where you need to set a boundary of:

  •  Only buying within your means, particularly in a struggling relationship
  • Asking yourself the question, am I only buying this/these because I want to fix things?

Another boundary is to not compare yourself to other couples on social media or in your extended life as they may be going through the exact same issues as you or other issues entirely but just want to post their highlights online.

Are you a couple with children? 

This makes establishing boundaries even more important (particularly if they are young children) as Christmas is their magical time.

For example, it may be that you try to communicate effectively not in their presence to establish a plan of how to behave/communicate whilst in their presence.

This can work two-fold (depending on how deep the issues in the relationship are). So again, for example, it may be that this plan in an indirect way actually works in bringing you closer together again due to how you have planned and worked together as a team for the greater good (your children). Likewise, if it does not do that, it will enable you to get through the Christmas period as amicably as possible for their sake. 

Hopefully, this helps to show that establishing healthy boundaries is important as it allows you to prioritize what is right for both you and your relationship and in turn maintain balance amid the difficulties there.

Now that we understand the importance of managing our expectations and establishing boundaries during the holiday season, let us focus on self-care and seeking support. 

Focusing on self-care and seeking support

As discussed already and whilst we are now in the Christmas holiday season, it can be particularly challenging if you find yourself in a struggling relationship. 

It’s like navigating through a snowy forest without a compass – uncertain and overwhelming. 

Remember that a relationship tends to be made up of 3 parts, you, your partner, and the relationship itself. All 3 parts are symbiotic of each both in giving and in taking from one another.

By focusing on self-care and seeking support, you can find the strength and resilience needed to weather the storm. 

Self-care becomes your own guiding light through the darkness, offering solace and comfort amidst the chaos. Engaging in hobbies that bring you joy or practising mindfulness can help maintain emotional balance when everything feels out of control. Therefore, once you are more balanced, you can hopefully bring that to the relationship (if you still want to). 

You may consider joining a support group(s) or seeking professional help such as counselling to navigate the difficulties of your struggling relationship during the holiday season. It may be that you seek counselling by yourself so that you can bring more to the relationship or it may be that both you and your partner seek and undertake counselling together as a couple.

However, remember to take moments throughout each day to prioritise your well-being; whether it’s taking a long walk outside or indulging in a hot cup of tea while reading your favourite book. 

These small acts of kindness towards yourself will remind you that even in tough times, self-love should never be forgotten. This is the key to self-care, you remember that these acts of kindness are from you to you.

Sharing your struggles with loved ones who genuinely care about your happiness allows for vulnerability and understanding within relationships.

Once again, if you don’t feel able to do that with your circle of friends/family for whatever reason, then counselling may be the way forward for you.

Remember, that surviving Christmas time in a struggling relationship requires both honesty, courage and compassion towards oneself. 

Through self-care practices and seeking support from those around us, we can create a safe haven in the midst of chaos. This holiday season, let us embrace the power of self-care and reach out to those who care about our well-being. 

In conclusion, surviving Christmas time in a struggling relationship requires recognising and addressing the underlying issues. These are issues both within yourself and within the relationship.

It is crucial to have open conversations with your partner, seek professional help for either yourself if necessary, or together as a couple and commit to working together. 

It is also incredibly important to set realistic expectations and boundaries are also essential to avoid unnecessary pressure. Whilst also remembering to avoid comparing both your role in the relationship as well as the relationship to others – particularly on social media.

Remember to prioritise self-care by engaging in activities that bring you joy so that you can be the best you can be for you and your partner and to consider seeking support from trusted friends or professionals if you feel this will be beneficial for you.

By taking proactive steps, you can navigate this challenging season to get through it ready to fight together or know that it is time to end amicably.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wigan, Lancashire, WN1
Written by Ray Cruise
Wigan, Lancashire, WN1

I am an Integrative Psychotherapist/Counsellor based at Empowered Counselling Services.

I really enjoy working with people through their issues in a safe, non-judgmental, warm, empathetic environment - to see them change and transform as they begin to have their own realisations and, in turn, find and make the changes they need.

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