'Tis the season to be jolly — unless you're in a relationship!
December is the most stressful month for couples, according to a study of 2,000 people by Seddons. The study found that a whopping one in five couples consider breaking up because of holiday woes, including bad tidings from financial worries, entertaining extended family members and sharing the workload around Christmas.
The study also found that the average couple argued about four times a day around the holidays — that comes out to about once every three hours!
For 23% of couples, fighting became so bad that they ended their relationship for good. 16% of those who broke up said that they wanted to avoid buying their partner a gift — ouch! I wonder how these couples survive birthdays.
I don't know how couples find time to argue four times a day. Between working, cleaning up the house in preparation for Christmas (even though this year, it was just the two of us), and Christmas shopping — and now, New Year's preparations — I didn't/don't have any energy left to fight more than once a day.
I can, however, relate to the destructive pressure that many couples feel when trying to achieve the "perfect" holiday season. Since this was my fiance and mine first year away from our families in California, I sorta turned into Christmas-zilla, frantically trying to plan all of the traditions we're used to while making some new ones of our own. I researched recipes, made a Christmas menu and made midnight grocery trips around Manhattan to make sure we were well-stocked.
The added stress made us more prone to fight about little things. For example, a well-intended trip to Barnes & Noble to pick up some new board games and puzzles (a tradition we started this year) became a bothersome chore when we ended up annoying each other because we couldn't settle on any games. We walked around for about 45 minutes, getting more aggravated every minute. I was so irritated by the end of it that I started to believe it was a sure sign of our incompatibility.
The closest thing we had to holiday bliss this year was an impromptu trip to the holiday market in Union Square. At some point, my fiance called me a grinch (he was half-serious) when I wouldn't let him buy something he wanted (I already bought it for him as a gift earlier that day). But after he forced my short-lived secret out of me, we wandered around leisurely, enjoying hot cocoa and stopping by our favorite booths. His favorite was the street art, and I loved the Alpaca hat booth. We both fell in love with an artist whose paintings of happy animals among colorful scenery would fit perfectly in a child's room. I guess we're on the same page after all.
How did you and your partner survive the holiday stress?