Yes, yes, we know. Conflict is natural and healthy in relationship. But knowing conflict is normal doesn’t mean that it becomes easier, amirite? Why are the holidays such a time of conflict and stress, when they are supposed to be about love and celebration?
One word: expectation.
You probably have a way you think a holiday is “supposed” to feel or be. This may be a picture of joy, but it also might be an unconscious allegiance to strife. If holiday seasons in your past have been full of challenges, then you are going to believe that’s how it’s supposed to be. If holidays in your family of origin were times of peace and comfort, then that’s what you expect.
For most of us, it’s some mix of beautiful and terrible.
If you are in a relationship with a sweetie or partner, it makes sense that the two of you each bring your own set of expectations to what the holidays are supposed to be. This is hard, in and of itself. Whenever there is expectation, there is the risk of disappointment, which the holidays definitely can amplify.
Then there are the pressures!
- Hours of socialization with people you might not usually spend time with
- How (and when and for how long) each of your families expects attention
- The fun of overspending while in relationship! That might have a little impact, yes? Your person seeing any messiness you have with money, or you seeing theirs?
So are we all doomed to fight through the ‘happiest time of the year?’
The choices partners face around the holidays can create situational problems that are solvable.
- Children may insist on gifts that aren’t in the budget.
- Families may have expectations that a partner doesn’t wish to meet.
- An invitation to an event may conflict with other plans.