By Monica Kaule, PhD Candidate, LPC, CSAT Candidate

For many years law firms have unofficially dubbed January divorce month. Why you ask? The holidays. The holidays often exacerbate the stressors of relationships. Many times couples find themselves arguing during the holidays over the very things that should be keeping them together. Common holiday conflicts include: where to spend the holidays, how much to spend on presents, in-laws, prep work and cleaning duties, movies vs football, politics, expectations… the list goes on.

So how can you and your partner be prepared for these common conflicts and turn towards each other instead of against each other this year?  Healthy Communication and problem solving!


Make a plan and talk with each other first.  Consider the following recommendations:

  • Plan ahead–and keep communicating as events pop up.
  • Make it fun! Snuggle up with a glass of eggnog or hot chocolate while you plan for the upcoming holiday travel, holiday events, or other aspects of the holidays that you know might trigger conflict.
  • Always coordinate with your partner BEFORE committing to holiday plans, events etc.

Discuss expectations and preferences

One of the quickest ways for us to get let down is to have an unidentified or unexpressed expectation go unrealized. Sometimes we don’t even know we had an expectation until we find ourselves feeling down about how something happened. Don’t let these unanticipated moments rob you and your family of holiday joy! Take a moment to sit down and really think about your personal expectations and preferences around the following topics, then share them with your partner.

  • Gift Giving:
    Preferences, expectations, budgets, to whom?
  • Travel:
    Holiday Staycation or Family Jetsetter?
  • Family Traditions:
    Yours, Mine and Ours?
  • Religious Traditions:
    Are they the same? How do you make space for both partners when there are differences? How do you manage children in blended belief systems with different holiday traditions?
  • Decorating:
    When, how much, what? Do you have a Christmas Tree in the window and a Menorah on the table to represent your family’s traditions? Are you trying to put the Lampoons to shame? What is your Holiday decoration style and expectations for yourself and your family?
  • Managing Family & Friend Expectations:
    How do you split up expectations of time and interactions with both sides of the family, extended family, or friends? Do you get along with everyone? If not, how can you work together to manage the expectations in a way that doesn’t leave one person stuck in the middle and the other upset and hurt?


Problem Solving

Identify Compromises:  Now that you have communicated and better understand each other’s expectations and preferences, now it’s time to put a plan together that takes into consideration both partners’ needs. This can be tricky to manage and will likely include some healthy compromise, but make sure both people feel their needs are heard and valuable.

Set Boundaries:  Once you have the plan, stick to it.  Express necessary boundaries and the communication with others that is necessary to help you stick to the plan that is best for your relationship.


Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

Now that you’ve done the prep, take some time to rest, relax and be present in the moment through mindfulness and gratitude.


If you like what you saw here and want some more in-depth tips, followed by a live Q&A, click here to register and join us for our FREE Webinar Wednesday, December 3rd from 1 – 2 PM ET.  Monica Kaule will discuss healthy communication skills, errors, problem solving conversations, and tips for avoiding partner conflict and stress this holiday!