Christmas. A festive time of giving, eating and celebrate time with family. Relax and enjoy time with the ones you love.
Sound’s idyllic doesn’t it and for many families it is. But for some couples it just adds more stress to what may be an already strained relationship.
The common trigger for arguments at this time of the year is money. Not having enough of it. Spending too much on the kids, on each other and the supermarket. The rest of the arguments tend to be more about family; not helping with the chores, who should sit next to who (or is that whom??) or over indulging at the multitude of social events.
Remember, as a couple, you quite likely have different Money Personalities. We’ll just mention three of them here – the Spender, the Hoarder and an Avoider. I think their titles are a give-away as to each of their personality traits.
At this time of year when stress levels are elevated, those money personality differences are likely to clash (if you don’t understand how they fit). For instance, if you are a Spender, you enjoy the gift shopping, splashing out on food and parties. While your Hoarder partner will be busy trying to keep you in check and keeping an eye on the cost. If you are a couple who argues about money brace yourself, you will probably have a few by the time you get to the New Year.
If, however, you are a money conversation avoider couple because you don’t want to upset each other or spoil the fun of the season, then you could be in for a rude awakening when the credit card statement arrives.
Going back to our example, if you are a Spender and your partner is a Hoarder, their stress levels will be going up. They can see what is being spent and will be worrying about paying for it all, but they don’t want to say no to you, so their stress levels continue to mount. While you, continue in your happy place and ‘shop ‘till you drop!’
The festive stress may also manifest itself in other ways: a few too many drinks at Christmas parties, being a bit moody and generally feeling a bit like scrooge from “A Christmas Carol” and just wanting it all to be over!
So here are a few tips to help you survive Christmas as a couple – and still be talking to each other.
- In all the hectic planning that surrounds Christmas, make sure you have some ‘couple time’. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Take some time out and go for a walk together (not around the local shopping mall) or spend some time at the end of the day to watch a bit of TV together. If you have house guests, ask them to look after kids for an hour so you can get away for a coffee together.
- It isn’t just the ‘pressie’ buying that causes stress. We also tend to spend up large in the supermarket as well. If you haven’t planned your Christmas spend earlier in the year, it isn’t too late to do it now. Take a reality check. Total what you have already spent, add to that what you have left to buy. You might be able to cut back on what is left. This will help lessen the shock in January.
- Focus on the positives in your relationship. Yes, I know this can be a little difficult when there is a constant stream of visitors, food to prepare and kids wanting to know if Santa has left the North Pole yet. And on top of all that, you are tired!
- Make time in January to recover, both financially and emotionally from Christmas. Fit in some more ‘couple time’. Think about your money plan for the coming year, set some goals (and no, I don’t mean New Year’s resolutions) and if you have overspent in December, deal with it straight away so it doesn’t get further out of control.
- If your relationship hasn’t got back on an even keel and you are still arguing and feel stressed about money, then get some help, either from a marriage counselor or a financial coach who can help you put a money plan in place.
Don’t let the Christmas season turn your relationship into an emotional battlefield. Keep talking to each other (no, not yelling) and if you do need help and support, ask for it, either from each other or someone else.
To ensure you both don’t get to the same point next year, make sure you take some time over the break to have the money conversation. Understand each other’s money personalities and how you can better work together for a peaceful, relaxed Christmas next year.
If you would like some help keeping your relationship on track financially, have a look at our programmes and give us a call or drop us a line.