The Holidays, especially Christmas, are actually the peak times of the year where most relationships take a plunge. Weird, right? Not really, if you think about it. The Holidays are a stressful time of year for most, aside from all of the Joyous aspects Christmas brings. So ironically, the Holidays makes or breaks relationships.
There’s a lot of added pressure and expectations, especially for young couples and early relationships. And as individuals, some take Christmas very seriously, or not at all – in terms of how those partake in the Holidays through their relationships.
It would be easy if we could simply not let the Holidays “get in the way” of our love life, and relationships. But inevitably, there are 3 main reasons why the Holidays makes or breaks relationships we should take more seriously.
3 Reasons The Holidays Makes Or Breaks Relationships
Pressure to meet the family
Because, you know, its the normal thing – to go home for the Holidays. For some, its the only time they go home. And in young relationships – if you haven’t met the parents, yet – there’s the added pressure to impress.
Either way, the idea is still something young couples either dread, or fall anxious about when the jingle bells roll around. Especially if meeting the families is something both have been mutually avoided altogether. It may be even more difficult when you’re both on different pages of the relationship – you’re ready and he’s awkwardly apprehensive. That can put a damper on the relationship.
It’s the moment you see one another in a different light, you get to know family members on a personal level, and soak in the atmosphere of an entirely different family life structure. It can be daunting, and pose as a threat as to if you feel sure and secure of the relationship.
I remember feeling ready to meet the family of one of my former past relationships (during our first Christmas together, 6 months into the relationship) but during and afterwards I felt the reality of what it meant to face a complete change in perspective. Thinking back, I remember being so nauseated over the difference in traditions, that I was complacent with in my upbringing. It was the embracing of another family’s valued Christmas traditions, and seeing my SO, at the time, in a totally different light. Needless to say, I regretted the decision of blending our first family Holiday together, even though I thought I was ready at the time.
Embracing other family traditions, and meeting family may be a complete breeze for some but not everyone. It’s important to communicate where you both stand thus far in the relationship – discuss whose ready, and who isn’t – and accept one another’s feelings on the matter.
Sometimes it’s best not to pressure young relationships (less than a year, or if its your first Christmas as a couple) into engaging in one another’s family Christmas traditions. Spend the Holiday, or your first Christmas together, creating your own traditions as a couple whilst allowing each other the time to see family separately.
Follow the “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” approach, so to speak.
Spending money on one another
On average, each person spends roughly $500 every year on Christmas (gifts). Granted, that’s average, and it fluctuates. And spending money on your significant other is another added stresser during this time of year. Especially in young relationships, there might be an invisible expectation as far as how much you spend, how many gifts to give, and whether you give them something they asked for or not. Even if those expectations clearly don’t exist – we still dread them. We dread them when we actually interested and looking to impress, and when we are on limbo on whether we even want to pursue the relationship through the Holidays.
It’s a nightmare for those who are on a strict budget, and for those who don’t feel they are at a point in the relationship to splurge on the other. It can create unnecessary tension, and since we all know money is the #1 thing couples fight about – money needs to be the last thing we allow to dictate our relationships early on.
My first Christmas with my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, I had the mentality where I didn’t want to be the one who gave him less presents than he gave me. It turned into an internal battle, as we would playfully hint about the number of gifts we got for each other. Granted, I wanted to splurge on him .
There was a point where I realized this was something an immature relationship would do. I needed to understand that it was more than OK for me to set myself a budget (since our salaries were horrifically different), read more into quality than quantity in giving, and not read into petty expectations.
Again, communication. Gift giving is an accessory, not a necessity to Christmas. It’s more than OK to set boundaries within young relationships to not do gifts one year, or give clear indications that you don’t have the budget to spend. If someone is willing to compromise a relationship based on gifts, or lack there of, then you are surely better off.
Natural rising of expectations and tensions
The Holidays brings about an emotional transcendence. It alters people – not necessarily in a bad way. I mean, it is the season of Joy, Love and giving.
But with the Holidays comes a rise in expectations, tensions and stress. It does naturally, along with all of those great added meanings, feelings and reasons for the season.
And it doesn’t just include the financial and family aspect of the Holiday. Conflict can arise between personal issues and differences between each other.
If you’re an avid Christmas shopper, obsessed with the romanticized aspect of the Holiday, or you’re keen on decorating and baking Holiday treats – when he’s not – it can create a sense of odd unfamiliarity as far your different values of Christmas. And these situations can easily become the fuel to feuds and bickering. We fail to realize that everyone “celebrates” Christmas entirely different than the other.
Some are expected to work more than others over the Holiday season, have strict family values of Christmas, or don’t share the same liking in traditions as you. It’s important to have this understanding, and respect this understanding in young relationships.
Only now, 4 years in, have my husband and I blended our own traditions. But because of our jobs, our values of Christmas differed, and still do. Being that my husband is a police officer, we tend to spend our Christmas on a different day since he works the actual Holiday most of the time. It was important for me to understand this aspect of our relationship early on, respect it and compromise a way to come together and meet in the middle.
It may be more difficult in early, or young relationships to be accepting of the fact that our SO may have a different outlook or value for the season, but it’s important not to write off one another’s Holiday traditions. Find common ground and similarities in your Christmas celebration, and be more open to making the time in creating your own together while respecting one another’s differences.