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How to survive family holidays without strangling your spouse

Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is a stressful time of year for many families, and marriage usually takes the brunt of it. But, before you let the chaos of juggling your kids, turkey dinners and extended families get the best of your relationship, check out these tips on how to survive family holidays without strangling your spouse.

I can’t say I was surprised when I came across the statistic that reported 76 percent of singles polled say that their breakups occurred before, during or after the holidays. And reports that U.S. divorce filings spiked in January and March (post V-day, perhaps?). While many couples find that merry and jolly aren’t the only feelings that bubble up during those fast and furious months, you don’t have to let it turn your relationship into a lump of coal.

  • Most importantly, the key to keeping the love alive during the holidays is communication. Set a date to discuss duties before the holidays hit and make a list of who does what so you don’t fill your stockings with resentment instead of joy.
  • And when you’re making holiday plans, remember to be fair with both sides of the family. You may not love your brother-in-law’s annoying holiday jokes, but spending equal time with your family and your in-laws, or alternating holidays with each extended family every year, can cut down on holiday head-butting with your spouse.
  • Once the tidal wave of holiday happenings washes over your schedule, remember to take time for each other. It doesn’t have to be a made-for-movie love affair, but you can sneak in couple’s time with quick dates, going holiday shopping together, meeting up for coffee or sending sweet sentiments via text — hey, at least you’ll know you’re on each other’s minds.
  • Want to bump the romance up a notch during the holidays? While you’re helping your kids write letters to Santa, scribe a love letter or two to your very own St. Nick or Mrs. Claus. Be sure to include your most secret holiday wishes you can’t send to Santa.
  • While you won’t want to hear this, one of the best things you can do for your relationship during the holidays is to keep drinking to a minimum. No one’s saying you should lay off the eggnog, but overindulging can amplify tensions and conflicts which are already strained.

Now, before you toss your marriage out with the tinsel, sometimes the easiest thing you can do is keep things in perspective. Once you acknowledge that stress makes things seem like a bigger deal than they are, you can still survive family holidays without strangling your spouse. Remember, the perfect family holiday really only happens in the movies.

Read more holiday tips

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