6 things you should never say to your partner at Christmas
Christmas is an emotional time for lots of people. Tension is heightened and we spend longer than usual in the company of family and friends as well as often drinking more than at any other time of the year. All that food and festivity can loosen tongues and make you want to open up to your partner but here are some things you should never say:
1. “My ex used to ….”
Whatever it is – buy me diamonds, carve the turkey upside down, dress up as Father Christmas – that your ex used to do your partner does not need to know about it. Even if you are comparing them favourably – e.g. my ex never made me a stocking – indulging in memories about your ex brings them into the room and could be the spark to start a row. While it is perfectly natural to reminisce about Christmases in the past it is really important to stay present in your new life, with your new partner, and start to forge new memories and traditions together. If thoughts and feelings about your past do come up it is better to share them with a trusted friend than with your partner.
2. “That’s not what I wanted”
Present giving is a potential minefield for couples. Some people want their partner to be able to mind read their desires and if they don’t manage that successfully then it is interpreted as evidence that they don’t know or understand them. This is unfair. If there is a specific gift that you want from your partner then tell them clearly. If you leave the gift choice up to them remember what they buy is more a reflection of their personality that what they think about yours.
3. Don’t always say ‘yes’ when sometimes you mean ‘no’
There is a lot of pressure put on people at Christmas time to engage in activities that they might find difficult or challenging or simply not enjoyable. This can include office parties, spending time with your partner’s family and friends, church services or other traditions that are important to your partner but not to you.
Christmas is about give and take and although it is better to be emotionally honest with your partner it is also important that you go along with some things because it is important to them. The key is balance. If you are always the one compromising and doing things you don’t want to do then you will eventually become exhausted and resentful from putting a smile on your face when you don’t mean it. Ask for what you want and need from your partner and don’t be afraid to say no to requests that you really don’t want to do.
4. “Your ideas/beliefs/traditions are silly”
Christmas time is steeped in traditions for most people and each family will have their own way of doing things. When you come together as a couple you will be bringing two unique experiences into the relationship. While it is important to find your own way of celebrating Christmas as a couple it is also important to honour and respect each other’s childhood experiences and incorporate those that either one of you is not ready to relinquish.
5. ” I don’t like your family”
If you don’t like your partner’s family but you are expected to spend time with them over the festive period you need to be very careful about how much you express your dislike to your partner. It can cause them to have split loyalties and they are likely to feel defensive which could result in a clash between you. Let off steam but to someone else and always show a united front with your partner when dealing with their family.
6. “Christmas should be perfect”
One of the reasons couples argue so much at Christmas – and couples counselling services are so busy in the New Year – is because they put so much pressure on each other, and on the relationship, to make everything perfect. When Christmas fails to live up to these unrealistic expectations tempers can flare and each partner is likely to blame the other for not trying hard enough to make it perfect. The reality is that Christmas is often the time that problems that have been rumbling throughout the year come to a head and unless you are prepared to deal with them, whatever day it is, then even if everyone ‘acts’ as though things are perfect, they won’t be. Aim for peace rather than perfection.
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