8 ways to avoid relationship problems this Christmas

How to avoid festive rows with the best tips for a loving and stress-free relationship this Christmas.

From spending too much on presents or overcooking the turkey, to dealing with a critical in-law or loved one who’s over indulged. Christmas is supposed to celebrate peace and goodwill to all, but for many the stresses and strains can spill over into arguments and silences.

It’s the most challenging time of the year for relationships, so how can you make it through the next few weeks without it driving a wedge between you and your partner?

We’ve got the best advice on how to remain loving and caring towards each other, no matter what the festive season brings.

A man and a woman arguing at christmas next to a Christmas treeCredit: Shutterstock / Krakenimages.com

Christmas can be stressful for couples

In a recent survey, relationship charity Relate found 70 per cent of adults are worried that pressures to create a perfect Christmas, pressure to socialise and money worries could actually harm their relationship.

It comes as no surprise then that January is dubbed the ‘divorce month’ by legal experts, who say they get more divorce enquiries then than in any other month of the year.

So how do you prevent what should be the happiest and most loving time of the year, turning your relationship sour?

How to avoid relationship problems at Christmas

Jan Day is one of the UK’s top relationship experts and author of the book Living Tantra. She’s sharing her top tips with Saga, to make sure this Christmas is special for you both.

1. Keep it simple together

Take time to relax with your partner

We are often tired, frazzled and over-stimulated at Christmas. Often it’s because we’ve done too much for too many people. We’ve put pressure on ourselves to make it all perfect. Mostly what we all need at Christmas is to be kind to ourselves and each other – and ditch the ‘perfect’.

Take a moment

It might be just a shared smile, holding hands while watching TV or, if you have more time, get out for a walk together.

However simple it is, it’s about enjoying being together, rather than being irritable from too much cooking and preparation.

2. Ask for a hug when you are struggling

Put connection first

Christmas is inevitably loaded with expectations, mostly from our childhood dreams. We’re a bit more raw than usual.

If you’re hurting, ask for a hug rather than launch into what’s wrong. Prioritise connection over anything else.

3. Tell your partner you love them

Put your relationship first

The biggest gift you can give your relationship is to let your partner know how much you love and care about them and that your relationship matters more than anything.

If an argument is brewing pause and ask yourself, ‘what would I be doing or saying now if the thing that mattered most was my relationship?’ Then do it.

4. Share your jobs

Ask for help, then do It together

Whatever you are doing, it’s more fun and intimate if you are doing it together. So ask for help.

‘Would you be up for doing this with me?’ ‘I’d love to do it with you (wrapping the presents, decorating the tree, cutting vegetables, cooking the turkey)’. And then remember that enjoying working together is more important than the final result. Aim to be perfectly imperfect.

5. It’s okay to spend time apart

Take some time alone

Take the pressure off and agree when you’ll take time for yourself.

Go for a solo walk, curl up with your favourite book or snuggle up in a blanket and watch your favourite TV show. We all need down time. And then enjoy re-connecting again afterwards.

6. Be honest if you are worried

Share your vulnerabilities

If there is something that is really important for you or tends to trigger you at Christmas, tell or remind your partner about it before it happens.

For example, ‘I know it’s kind of irrational but it’s just always been important for me that we open presents after lunch while carols are playing,’ or ‘It’s a tender moment for me when other people arrive for lunch – can you support me then?’ or ‘At Christmas parties I always feel shy and stressed, can you check on me throughout the evening?’

7. Support each other

Include your partner

Whether you are hosting a Christmas lunch, meeting friends or family or staying at home alone – make it your priority to care for your partner. That might mean making sure they are included in the conversation, get the quiet moments they need, or are supported in arguments with your family (or theirs).

Make sure that whatever you are doing, you let them know that they matter to you.

8. Try some yoga

Do it alone – or together

Is your relationship stressing you out? Yin yoga could be the answer. Yoga teacher Emma Turner says practicing this form of yoga can help when things become overwhelming.

“I would definitely make sure to weave some calming yin yoga into my regular practice, which is a more grounded, slower form of yoga that focuses on holding passive yoga postures for longer periods of time,” she says.

“Yin postures like supported fish and supported bridge (using a bolster or yoga blocks), which help to open up the chest and the spine and, which you can hold and relax into, are definitely two of my favourites.”

If that seems too active, how about some meditation? This can really help if you have lots of anxious thoughts running through your head. Emma recommends a candle gazing meditation technique called Trataka, which you could potentially do with your partner.

“It’s a lovely way to calm and focus the mind and body,” she says.

“It involves simply sitting comfortably and gazing at a candle flame, bringing your full attention to the flame and allowing your mind and thoughts to settle. This practice might feel nice and festive too.”

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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