Don’t let Christmas wreck your relationships

As Mums and Dads we should be looking forward to Christmas, savouring the opportunity to share time away from work and other distractions. And yet for some of us, there is the same nagging dread each year that things won’t run smoothly...

Healthy Relationships at Christmas

How can you help Christmas run smoothly and not be a time of stress for your family?

Negotiate how you’re going to spend your time

Parents put a great deal of pressure on themselves to give their kids the best Christmas ever. Often we don’t look at how we would like our Christmas to be, but the best way to protect your relationship is to talk with your partner early.

You may both have very different priorities particularly when it comes to fitting in family and friends. Try to avoid slipping into arguments about family obligations and in-laws. Watch out for that ‘here we go again’ feeling, negotiate how time will be spent and make an effort to understand each other's position.

Money worries

Money is one of the main causes of arguments for couples, so it helps to agree on a Christmas budget. Sit down with your partner and talk realistically and well in advance of Christmas shopping about spending.

Children love everything about Christmas – the games, traditions, food and music. Don’t feel pressured into a huge spend that you may regret when the credit card bill comes in.


If your children will spend Christmas away from you this year, think of all the ways you can keep in touch using texts, email or Skype. Talk to your children in advance about what Christmas will be like for all of you. Reassure them that you will be fine even though you will miss them, and encourage them to enjoy themselves.

It’s always worth remembering that the Christmas holidays are longer than just Christmas Day. Plan some activities for other days in the season. Presents can send quite a powerful message particularly if there is a marked difference in value - liaise with your ex-partner or whoever they are staying with and buy gifts of similar values for the children.

If you are spending your first Christmas as a new blended family, encourage everybody to talk about their expectations of the holiday season and reach an agreement about how everyone can spend their time well in advance.

Step-families can be complicated, so try not to pile too much pressure on yourself and your family members for everything to be perfect.

Don’t forget the mistletoe

Throughout the Christmas period remember that you and your partner should be sharing the work – ask for support from each other, do small things for each other and spend time underneath the mistletoe!

Related links


  • When a new child breaks your routine: When a couple become parents their lifestyle is turned upside down. In this article, Paula Hall describes what can be done to ensure the bond isn’t broken by the new arrival.

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