How to avoid Christmas arguments

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Despite the fact that Christmas is meant to be a season of peace and goodwill to all it is a time of potential conflict for many people. Often a family row or disagreement has become so common it is almost as much of a tradition as having a fresh seafood for Christmas lunch. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some tips, although they may not make your Christmas perfect, they could help to ensure that it is more peaceful.

Get real

One of the reasons tensions rise and nerves get frayed at Christmas time is because people feel like there is an enormous pressure on them to create a perfect Christmas. This usually involves spending more money than they can comfortably afford on presents which are given in a spirit of duty rather than generosity. Financial pressures are a daily and realistic part of most people’s lives and the added expense of Christmas on an already fragile budget can cause serious stress which will inevitably come to a head at some point over the Christmas period.

Time is the other thing that is often in short supply over the festive season yet people often feel compelled to give the time they do have to people whom they may avoid spending time with for the rest of the year. The combination of these two things causes an explosive mix – which alcohol is then added to – and the results can be disastrous.

The strange thing is that everyone is trying to do the ‘right’ thing so they don’t hurt anyone’s feelings but the ‘right’ thing for other people might be totally the ‘wrong’ thing for you, which is why is becomes so frustrating and painful.

If you weren’t concerned with other people’s opinions of you what would you really like to do this Christmas? How much can you really afford to spend? Where do you enjoy spending your time? It is not a case of completely abandoning other people but of getting honest with yourself about how much tension is caused because you are not honouring yourself and your own needs. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.

Stay sober

The majority of arguments and relationship breakdowns that occur over the Christmas period have alcohol at the root. People who never normally drink are just as likely to have too much as anyone else and it often makes people say and do things that are uncharacteristic. Long standing resentments come to the fore and little tensions that have been simmering away for months suddenly get blown out of all proportion.

If you are going into a situation where you know you have unresolved issues steer clear of drinking too much. If you feel your temper rising – stop – leave the room – have a glass of water or cup of coffee and ask yourself these three questions: Does this need to be said now? Does it need to be said by me? If I were sober would I say it? You cannot control other people’s behaviour but you can control your own. If a situation gets out of hand – leave – even if it is in the middle of Christmas day you do not have to stay and get embroiled in a row.

Show your appreciation

Whether your appreciation is for a gift, the food you have to eat or the family and friends you have – no matter how imperfect they are – gratitude has an almost magical soothing effect on frayed nerves and rising tempers. Tell people you are happy to see them, thank them sincerely for the gifts they give you even if they are not what you would have chosen for yourself – it is the thought that counts. Whatever happens make a commitment to yourself to look for the best in whatever situation you find yourself and a promise to let those around you know how much you appreciate them. If you cannot do this you may be better off spending your Christmas elsewhere.

Respect other people’s experiences

Christmas is not a happy time for lots of people. Instead it may bring up sad or painful memories or cause them so much stress and anxiety that they simply cannot participate in the way you would like them too. Although is may be difficult to accept that other people – especially if it is your partner –  are not as enthusiastic as you are about Christmas your patience, love and understanding are the best present you can give to them.


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