How Holiday Stress Can Impact Your Marriage

By Daniel H. Moss, Attorney

‘Tis the season to be busy! For many, the Christmas season is a festive, yet hectic time. There’s a great deal of anticipation at this time of year for adults and children alike. While the holidays can mean magic is in the air for children, couples often struggle with a host of stressful situations, which can put a strain on their marriages.

The top 5 Christmastime stressors for couples and some suggestions for managing them:

  1. Money
    Christmas is expensive, especially if you have a large family. Breaking the budget at this time of year can cause a lot of stress for couples, especially if they do not see eye-to-eye on how much should be spent on gifts. Suggestion: Develop an overall budget and a budget for each individual for whom you need to purchase a gift. Before making purchases, discuss together any gifts that exceed the budget.
  2. Entertaining
    At this busy time of year, a lot of time and effort is spent to plan and host gatherings. The desire to make your events special, combined with the added workload involved with entertaining, can cause a lot of stress for couples. This is especially true if all of the entertaining duties fall on one person’s shoulders. Suggestion: Work together when hosting events. Focus on enjoying the festivities and not going overboard trying to make everything perfect.
  3. Work
    Not everyone gets to take time off at the holidays. If one spouse has more workplace demands and the other is left to take care of the shopping, planning and preparing for holidays, resentment can build. Suggestion: Carve out some time to shop together or grab a quick cup of coffee together to discuss gift ideas. For one person, the break from work can be refreshing; for the other, a little bit of help can go a long way.
  4. Time
    Between family gatherings, work parties, visiting out-of-towners, and multiple holiday gatherings at grandparents’ houses, the ability to fit these events into the already hectic holiday schedule can cause a great deal of stress. While trying to be everywhere at once, couples can feel pulled apart. Suggestion: Make plans very carefully at this time of year, and be cautious with your time. This might involve missing some less important events, or limiting the time you spend at each. Stick with your partner at these events so that you’re not just individually visiting with other partygoers, but with one another as well.
  5. School’s Out
    Your kids might be enjoying some time off of school, but this addition to your normal schedule during this chaotic time of year can cause a strain on couples who are already juggling time and commitments. Suggestion: Organize your calendar, so that you can share the responsibilities and manage the kid’s events.

As you’re planning your holiday activities, preparing to visit with loved ones and imagining the joy on your children’s faces as they open their special gifts, take the time to be aware of some of the biggest stressors for couples at this time of year. Mentally prepare yourself and work with your spouse to alleviate some of the stresses of the season.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Daniel Moss