17 Arguments Every Couple Has During The Holidays
These holiday fights are common in every relationship.
The holiday season is supposed to be about spending time with loved ones, exchanging meaningful gifts, and unwinding with cookies and cocoa by the fire. And yet sometimes couples will find themselves having arguments during the holidays about the very things that should be bringing them together.
If you fight with your significant other during the holidays, you're not alone. For some reason, arguments during the holidays are all too common among couples. Whether you're currently in a relationship or are happily single, you'll appreciate these seasonal scuffles that every couple has experienced.
Where to spend the holidays
Your family lives on the East Coast, and your spouse's family lives on the West Coast. You, meanwhile, live smack-dab in the middle of the country, equidistant from both. So how are you supposed to decide where to spend the holidays?
This is an argument that couples are all too familiar with. You want to spend the holidays with both your families and with each other, and there's just no plausible way of doing that. In most cases, the best solution is just to compromise and switch off where you're celebrating every other year.
How much to spend on presents
"Managing your finances may even be more difficult in December, and differences in attitudes towards spending will be even more apparent," notes relationship therapist Elly Prior on her website. And unfortunately, these monetary differences can make or break a relationship: One 2012 study published in the journal Family Relations concluded that financial disagreements tend to be stronger predictors of divorce than other common issues.
What gifts to buy family members
Gifts are a hot button issue during the holiday season. And even if you agree with your partner about a budget, you still have to agree on what to give everyone on your list. Avoid this holiday argument and just split your shopping list in half with your significant other.
How many presents to buy the kids
Couples often argue about how many presents they should buy their kids for Christmas. This is such a common argument, in fact, that in December 2013, an article in HuffPost titled "Why I'm Buying My Children A Lot of Presents" became the talk of the town—or, at least, the Twitterverse.
"I see Christmas as a time of 'yes,'" Lyz Lenz wrote in the article. "I spend all year teaching restraint. I spend all year telling her that new toys just don't happen on a Tuesday. … But on Christmas, I get to say 'yes.' I get to take her tiny dreams of pink ponies and princesses and I can make them appear." Naturally, some people agree with what Lenz had to say, and others are adamantly opposed to the idea of spoiling their kids—even during the holidays. If you and your partner have different perspectives on this debate, see if you can find some common ground.
What to do on New Year's Eve
Opposites might attract, but they definitely butt heads come New Year's Eve. While the introvert in the relationship might want to stay in and keep things casual to celebrate the end of the year, the more extroverted person usually prefers to go out and party.
If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who's far more or far less social than you, just try to keep their needs in mind as well as your own this holiday season. As psychiatrist David Sack, MD explained in an article for Psychology Today, "over time … differences can begin to wear, especially if each [person in the relationship] feels they are being asked to continually subsume their needs to the other."
How much time to spend with the in-laws
Not everyone wants to spend their precious days off with their in-laws during the holidays, and that's totally understandable. However, if you care about your partner—and we're sure that you do—then you should try to compromise and most importantly, recognize that their family is important to them.
"Surviving the 'holiday hustle' requires open communication between you and your partner," Texas-based marriage and family therapist associate Liz Higgins, LMFTA, explained on The Gottman Institute's website. "Remember, this is your partner's family and they may have a different perspective of them than you. It's normal for couples to have to adjust to each other's feelings about their parents. If you can maintain respect and open communication throughout this process, you'll both win."
How to split cleaning duties
Even if you don't decide to host this holiday season, there is going to be tons of cleaning to get done around the house once Christmas has come and gone. After presents are opened, there is wrapping paper to clean up; after the tree has been thrown out, there are pine needles to sweep up; and after the holiday season is over, all of those decorations have to be put back into storage.
But cleaning is the last thing anyone wants to do amid the exhaustion of the holidays, so many couples argue over who should do what once it's time to tidy up. Save your relationship and your sanity, and just split the chores.
Which movies to watch
They want to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but you've always watched Home Alone on Christmas Eve. It's a silly argument, but a common one nonetheless. Thankfully, there's an easy solution: Host a back-to-back Christmas movie marathon and watch both. Problem solved!
Whether to watch football on Thanksgiving
Is it annoying that football games air every year on Thanksgiving? Yes. However, if it makes your partner happy to watch those games, then let them—just as long as they sit at the dinner table and enjoy their Thanksgiving meal with the family first.
What time to eat on Thanksgiving
In some households, calling Thanksgiving dinner "dinner" is something of a stretch, given that the meal takes place closer to lunchtime. Typically, what time you eat this holiday dinner is based on both tradition and preference—but if you and your partner grew up in households with vastly different traditions, then you might find yourselves arguing over whether to start carving the turkey at 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. Meet in the middle and eat at 5 o'clock.
When to open presents
The kids are begging to open their presents on Christmas Eve, and your spouse is ready to give in. You, meanwhile, feel like they should wait, if only because you don't really want to deal with another mess on the night before Christmas. Sound familiar?
This is a common argument during the holidays, especially for couples with kids. And while both perspectives are understandable, you can easily compromise here by letting everyone open one present on Christmas Eve and saving the rest for Dec. 25.
Which holiday to celebrate
"In dual-religion or dual-ethnicity couples that celebrate more than one holiday, it can be a struggle to figure out which holiday should take precedent in the case of overlap," Maryland-based clinical psychologist Samantha Rodman notes on the blog for online therapy company Talkspace. If and when your holiday celebrations and your partner's holiday celebrations conflict, she suggests working with a "neutral third party" to reach a compromise.
Who's driving (and staying sober)
During the holiday season, a flute of champagne here and a glass of red wine there is the perfect accompaniment to festivities. If you're not the one hosting, though, then there's a question that needs to be addressed with your spouse: Who is going to stay sober and be the designated driver?
Of course, nobody wants to turn down delicious, free alcohol during the holidays while their significant other indulges—but every year, somebody has to. Calling a cab or using a ride-sharing app is always an option, but prices surge during the holidays, so it's never ideal. Even in the age of Uber, this remains a common holiday argument.
Whether to host
Hosting during the holidays can be fun, but it's also a huge responsibility that you or your spouse might not want to deal with. After all, cooking, cleaning, and welcoming hordes of family members into your home isn't exactly everyone's idea of a fun Christmas.
However, there are people out there who actually do enjoy the responsibility of hosting—and if one of those people is your partner, you might find yourself fighting with them during the holidays about whether or not to entertain. At the end of the day, try to remember that though party prep is far from fun, if it makes your partner happy, then it's worth it.
When to tell the kids about Santa
Personal preference usually dictates at what age a parent tells their child that Santa isn't real. But what if each parent has a different opinion on this matter? Unfortunately that disconnect can lead to a fight during what should be a festive and fun season.
At the end of the day, it's really not worth ruining your Christmas over this; if your spouse wants to tell the kids that Santa Claus doesn't actually exist, just make sure they do so in a gentle and compassionate way.
Whether to bring up politics
Politics are always an issue when they come up at the Thanksgiving dinner table, so your spouse may prefer that you avoid talking about them. "Stay clear of hot button topics like money and politics," relationship and marriage counselor Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, advises on her website. "Keep it light."
When to put up holiday decorations
If you're the one in the relationship who wants to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up your Christmas decorations, it might do you some good to succumb to your significant other's wants in this situation. As psychoanalyst Steve McKeown explained to Unilad, "people like to associate to things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!"