Relationship research charity OnePlusOne has some top tips for maintaining the peace and goodwill at Christmas.
For many families, this is the one time of year when everybody comes together to eat, drink and be merry.
But when so many different characters are together in one place, it’s almost inevitable that there will be a row or two. And just the thought of arguments can cause couples to feel anxious about visiting each other’s families during the festive season.
Here are some top tips for couples at Christmas:
Dealing with the parents
You may be looking forward to spending time with your parents – your partner may be feeling stressed out about it. Likewise, you might find the thought of Christmas with the in-laws nerve wracking.
Prepare yourselves and talk to each other about what a typical Christmas with the family is like; the way your mum and you partner’s mum do things will probably be different.
Take a moment to call or email each other’s parents to see if they need help with the big day. Both your parents and the in-laws will appreciate the gesture and by communicating, stronger ties can be built between families.
If your parents are hosting, the thought of having an extra mouth to feed can be enough to get them flustered. Factor in any dietary requirements your partner may have and years of Christmas tradition can suddenly go out the window.
This can be a big shock to your parents’ systems – and their bank accounts! While you might be used to them paying for everything, it’s a good idea to offer to contribute. Why not get the turkey this year? Or simply split the cost of the food evenly between the adults?
Dealing with the kids
For most kids, Christmas is about one thing and one thing only: presents. But the anticipation that builds up to the ceremonial unwrapping can lead to tears and tantrums.
Try spreading gift-giving across the day. After the presents have been opened and they’ve had a chance to play with everything, kids can get bored and start causing mischief. By handing gifts out throughout the day you can keep the excitement going and, hopefully, ensure good behaviour.
If the kids do misbehave, it’s unfair for you or your partner to be left to do the disciplining alone. Neither of you want to look like Scrooge. Show a united front and discuss in advance how you plan on dealing with bad behaviour.
Your first Christmas as a couple
The first Christmas as a couple can be wonderfully romantic – everything’s new and there are opportunities to start your own traditions together. But having never spent this special time of year together before, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same wavelength.
The secret to a successful first Christmas is communication. Your partner’s not a mind-reader, and neither are you, so talk about what you both want from the festive season.
Christmas is often considered family time, and in the early days one or both of you may not feel ready to spend the day away from your relatives. Discuss how you would like to spend it – together or apart – in advance so you have time to make your own arrangements if necessary.
Don’t be offended if your partner is keen to stick with their family on Christmas day – for lots of people it’s a big step to spend Christmas day with their other half. Many only choose to do this once they’re married or have children.
Remember there are 12 days of Christmas. If you can’t spend the day itself together, why not plan your own romantic celebration on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, or do something to make New Year’s Eve particularly special instead?