There’s a reason why December and January are the most popular months for couples to break up – it’s an extremely emotional time of year with much social activity, excitement, downtime and stress. It’s also a peak time for family and friends to argue and fall-out. So what can you do to avoid it?
According to Melissa Ferrari, a psychotherapist and relationship specialist based in Australia, if you want to prevent conflict over Christmas and ensure the festive season is as happy and harmonious as possible, you need to take precautions.
“It’s a really good idea to holiday-proof your relationships,” says Melissa. “Even the happiest of couples or good family relationships can become strained and affected at this time of year so it’s important to be mindful of potential issues and safeguard yourself against them.”
Here are Melissa’s tips for how to ensure your relationships survive the holidays:
1. Be wary of overindulging
Office Christmas parties, family get-togethers, New Year’s Eve celebrations – they’re all situations where alcohol is likely to be consumed which could lead to unpleasant behaviour, heated arguments and regrettable actions with negative consequences. So remember to take it easy and be mindful that people under the influence can often say and do things they don’t mean.
2. Be kind
Understand that loved ones might be more stressed than usual and give them a bit more allowance for this. When people are busy or anxious they may come across the wrong way and unintentionally instigate conflict, so recognise it for what it is and don’t take the bait.
3. Set expectations
Clarity creates calm so discuss prior things such as where you’ll be on the important dates, what you’ll be doing, expectations around presents, who’s driving and who’s cooking. This way there’ll be no mixed messages between couples (and family members!).
4. Share the load
Don’t just let one person be responsible for all tasks, allocate jobs and get everyone involved in the planning and organisation. Not only will it be easier and help prevent disappointment, but it’s more fun this way too!
5. Support your loved ones
If your partner or a family member is anxious about something (such as seeing a particular relative), be there for them and let them know you’ve got their back. This alone can be extremely reassuring. In romantic relationships it’s referred to as the ‘couple bubble’ by Dr. Stan Tatkin – where you keep each other safe and secure, privately and publicly. So don’t forget this and give support willingly and openly.
When stress goes up, communication often goes down. Remember to bring up any concerns you have around the holidays BEFORE they become an issue, and don’t forget to let your loved ones know how excited and happy you feel – good vibes are contagious!
Many people are alone during the holidays. So acknowledging those less fortunate is an easy way to feel gratitude for your own relationships and circumstances, which will make you less likely to argue or become upset. Reaching out to estranged family members or friends, and other acts of kindness towards strangers can also work wonders.
The Christmas holidays are a time for people to come together after all, so make sure you don’t forget to holiday-proof your relationships to ensure they survive the silly season and help you create unforgettable memories for all the RIGHT reasons.
Melissa Ferrari is one of Australia’s most sought-after relationship experts and is renowned for her warmth and engaging personality. Through her private counselling sessions, seminars and couples retreats, Melissa has helped thousands of individuals and couples gain insight into their relationship problems and has given them the tools to help them resolve ongoing conflicts and move towards developing and maintaining a loving and connected relationship. For more information visit the website: www.melissaferrari.com.au