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21st December 2015

Prioritising Your Relationship This Christmas

Christmas is that most wondrous time of year when couples reach out to one another and to their families in a loving spirit of generosity. Just now you are perhaps going through your to-do list and pondering how you can make this Christmas extra special for your loved ones? You may already have decided on your partner’s special gift and you are perhaps wondering what surprises your partner has in store for you? Perhaps through financial constraints, bereavement, illness or upset within your family, you have decided that this Christmas will be a quiet one? You may even wish Christmas was all over? On the one hand Christmas can be that most magic time of year, but for some relationships and families Christmas can be very traumatic and challenging.

Unresolved or unspoken problems of communication and conflictfrequently come to the surface over the Christmas holiday period. Tensions that have been simmering under the surface in relationships are given expression through stress, frustration, distress, exhaustion, anger, disappointment or lack of consultation on decisions made. Over the holiday period couples spend more time indoors in close proximity to one another because the weather is usually cold or bad outdoors. For some relationships this represents greater intimacy but for others it’s claustrophobic and invasive. Sometimes in-laws or friends invited only by one partner, who come for Christmas dinner, extend their stay causing resentment within the relationship. Within other relationships the presence of extended family can add to the enjoyment of the season can make the Christmas thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe the Christmas budget, which may have been grossly exceeded by one partner or by both, causes annoyance and resentment. Perhaps the children, who having received a windfall of presents, remain dissatisfied that some perceived need has not been met? Sometimes one partner becomes awkward or maybe abusive to the other through consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol. And sometimes over the Christmas period couples have time to reflect and decide that their relationship is over; the fire has gone out of it for them.

So as you approach this  coming Christmas, how can you prioritise thepositive and loving qualities within your relationship and how can you reach out to your partner? You can begin perhaps by engaging more attentively in communication by discussing how both of you would like to spend the Christmas season. You can discuss how you would both like to maximise the time you have together; how you can find time to be alone; how you will find time for intimacy; how you will find time and do things together outside the home. Perhaps you both need to spend a day with your friends and family separately? Perhaps you would like to plan a dinner date or a concert date together? Perhaps you both need a night in together with no intrusions to the comfort, intimacy and privacy of your home?

Open, loving communications can unlock the doors of discontentmentand disenchantment over the Christmas season. By checking in with one another on a constant basis you can become aware of how each day is going for one another. If your partner finds something particularly upsetting or uncomfortable, you can discuss what is going on for him/her and be supportive of how he / she feels. When a misunderstanding or disagreement arises between you and your partner, you can help resolve the issue by sharing what is going on for both of you. By lovingly prioritising what you share together, you can make this Christmas very special!


Outline to your partner how would like to spend this Christmas season! Allow your partner to repeat the exercise with you! Discuss the things you want to do together and how you can prioritise time for one another. Discuss the areas you both feel would be intrusive and unwelcome to the enjoyment of a loving Christmas and plan together to mange such potential situations.

If you are encountering problems in your relationship or if you would like to explore unresolved relationship issues, and would like to speak to somebody on a confidential basis, you might like to speak to ACCORD Marriage Counselling Service.

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