It’s not unusual for couples to experience holiday relationship stress.
Yes, there are a million little details to negotiate and compromise on around the Christmas and New Year period, aren’t there?
Who do we see, when and for how long?
Who gets a gift, who gets a re-gift gift? What do we give the kids?
Do we drive or fly? Who is driving (I thought YOU were driving!)?
Do we have to go to the neighbours’ house for drinks AGAIN?
And so on and so on…
Is Financial Stress Affecting Your Relationship?
This year, it is likely that many couples have greater financial stress as they contemplate the expenses of the holiday season.
Globally, the cost of living has risen since the pandemic, and for many, their income has not matched that increase. This generally leaves households with less for holidays, gifts, entertainment, and fun.
It also leaves many feeling very stressed and stretched.
For most of us, it is much easier to expand into greater abundance than to reduce our spending (it’s way more fun too).
But even if you are a household that shuns material possessions and use only what you need, you are likely to be feeling the pinch as the cost of fuel, power, and the most essential of essentials – food, becomes more expensive.
Adjusting to a Lower Budget
Making do with less is likely to have some people feeling like their needs are not being met, or at least not being met in a way they have become accustomed to.
Adjustments take time and are often uncomfortable.
If you have had to make financial adjustments this holiday period you might be feeling a bit sad, hard done by, angry, or worried.
This is all normal. But it can lead to more partner arguments as we emotionally adjust.
The Values Beneath Money Worries in your Marriage
If you and your partner are arguing about finances, do you know why?
What is each of your positions on household spending?
Does one of you want the kids to not miss out on anything while the other wants to put money away for the kids’ future? (Perhaps both were previously possible but now you’re forced to make a choice?)
Does one of you have a commitment to a certain standard of groceries, while the other sees organic food as a luxury?
Compromising On Financial Decisions with your Partner
To start managing holiday relationship stress where money is concerned, ask yourself where are the areas where you can compromise?
To find the answers, you must first find where the non-compromise areas are.
For example, if you feel that organic food is important but the most important food to eat organically is root vegetables, can you agree that you continue purchasing organic potatoes but have non-organic everything else?
If your partner feels that the kids need one special present, can you compromise on a dollar limit for that gift and not spend on other smaller gifts?
If it is essential for you to continue putting money aside for your children’s future, can you agree that this is non-negotiable and choose another sacrifice, such as pausing a subscription or arranging a Secret Santa for the adults in your family at Christmas (so you only need to give one adult gift)?
Discovering Your Values and Your Partner’s Values
In your discussions with your partner around what is non-negotiable and where you can meet halfway, talk about the why underneath your feelings.
Why is it important for certain foods to be organic?
Why is it important to put money aside for your children?
Why is it important for each of your kids to find one big-ticket item under the Christmas tree?
Often, we aren’t even aware of our own strong motivations that govern our preferences and decisions, and even less aware of what is driving others to feel a certain way.
Having thoughtful discussions about what underlies your strong feelings with your partner can be revealing, can foster greater understanding and emotional intimacy, and if approached with curiosity and openness, it can also be really fun!
See what you can learn about your partner while compromising with them on money matters.
And make a note of how these discoveries affect your holiday relationship stress.
Marriage and Relationship Counselling Can Help
If you and your partner need a helping hand to communicate and manage relationship tension, please reach out to us at The Bondi Psychologist.