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Holiday Stress: Top Relationship Problems That Surface & How to Overcome Them

The holidays are indeed wonderful, but the whole truth is that they are also extremely stressful. Especially in relationships. It’s one of the most common things to hear about around the holiday season.


It could be your kids, your parents, in-laws, spouse, friends, siblings, or even co-workers. Let’s face it, the stress of the holidays can push you to your limit. We’ve all been there.


Here are 6 relationship problems that seem to surface around the holidays (and how to overcome them).


1. Holiday Spending

Finances are one of the biggest stressors in life as it is. Add holiday spending, and it can get overwhelming – fast! The expenses add up, sometimes without you realizing it. Plane tickets, presents, extra food, parties, and even decorations – talk about endless expenses.


Disagreements can take hold, especially if one person feels frustrated with the other spending so much.


TIP: Communicate


Agree on a budget with your spouse or significant other, so you’re on the same page. No surprises! Come up with a plan on what you’re spending for the holidays and stick to it. Hold each other accountable, with love of course.


2. Dealing with In-Laws

Maybe you’re being pulled in 10 different directions when it comes to who to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with. And all you want is to leave the stress behind and have the holidays at your house.


Perhaps all of your family is coming together, and they don’t get along. You’re worried about someone saying something that will light a fire in someone who has a short fuse. Trying to keep the peace can be exhausting!


TIP: Plan Ahead


Before the stress hits hard, sit down as a family and make decisions together. Even let your family members know your plans ahead of time so they have time to accept the decisions you’ve made. If a fight breaks out, consider leaving early. That way you can remove yourself peacefully and continue with the family holiday cheer somewhere else.


3. Drinking and Alcohol

Overdrinking can be such a big issue over the holidays. Parties might be full of fancy drinks and bottles of wine. It’s tempting to let loose and have a few extra drinks. And that’s exactly what seems to happen in these types of settings.


With too much alcohol, comes bad or inappropriate behavior. Even drunk driving is a serious issue that many of us are worried about during this time of year.


TIP: Say No


Maybe you know ahead of time that this specific party isn’t going to end well. Give yourself permission to simply say no this year. And remember, you can always leave before things get too wild.


4. Finding Time To Connect

Not only is life busy as it is, but then you add on gift shopping, parties, the pressure of traditions, and it seems like you’re left with very little time to connect.


Couples definitely struggle to stay connected around Christmas. The month becomes more about getting that to-do list checked off than nurturing your relationships. Next thing you know, you and your spouse haven’t connected for the entire month.


TIP: Listen


Be willing to slow down and listen. Listen to your kids and hear what brings them joy during the holiday season. Be ok with saying no to parties or events that take away from your peace and joy.


5. Depression

Depression can come from several different angles such as depressive disorder and seasonal depression (aka winter blues). It can also come from the loss of a loved one or going through a divorce or separation. Adjusting to them not being a part of the traditions anymore can be such a struggle.


You are trying to figure out how to let go of old traditions and make new ones. It’s easier said than done, we understand that.


TIP: Reach Out


Isolating yourself is where depression grows. Don’t sit alone with your sadness if you’re struggling with depression. Surround yourself with those who truly love you — the joy is contagious. You can also reach out on our website here, where we would love to pray for you and help you find resources for your unique situation.


6. Expectations

This is the real deal! This is at the root of almost every issue. Expectations! Unhealthy expectations cause stress for you and everyone around you. When you have unhealthy expectations from others and yourself, joy can easily be stripped away.


Maybe you’re trying to make everyone happy? Or trying to buy the perfect gifts and make everything magical for your kids/grandkids? Putting too much on yourself is a sure way to get stressed, and fast.


TIP: Just Ask


Sometimes, just asking is the hard part. But you can’t do everything on your own, so share your heart with your loved ones and let them help you. If your spouse is asking for help, listen and be ready to jump in so you can work as a team.


We know that the holidays can be stressful, but we also believe they give us the opportunity to grow and learn how to practice these skills.


The holidays can be joyful and refreshing for your soul. You just need to take these steps and practice listening, asking for help, communicating, and setting healthy boundaries.


It can be hard at first, but you won’t regret it. These tips can help turn Bah Humbug into Merry Christmas!


If you’re in a serious relationship, engaged, or newlywed – consider learning more about our class, Preparing for Marriage.


Experienced marriage educators cover key topics such as communication and conflict management, family dynamics, intimacy, finances, maximizing differences, date nights, and more.


Learn more in our resource center!