Christmas. A festive time of giving, eating and celebrate time with family and the start of summer holidays for many in the Southern hemisphere. Relaxing and enjoying 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 maybe 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, on other people and the supermarket. The rest of the arguments tend to be more about family; who’s not helping with the chores, who should sit next to who 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 the Avoider. I think their titles are a give-away as to each of their personality traits.
At this time of year when stress levels tend to be 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 really enjoy the gift shopping and splashing out on food and parties. While your Hoarder partner, will be busy trying to rein you in and keeping an eye on the cost.
If you are a couple who argues about money, brace yourself. You will probably have more than a few by the time you get to the New Year.
If, however, you are a couple that avoids having a money conversation 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 rise, while you continue in your happy place and “shop ‘till you drop!”
The festive season 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!
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 what you want to spend this Christmas, 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.
- Instead of supermarket shopping for your Christmas lunch or dinner, why not use one of the food delivery companies, like My Food Bag or Woop or any of the others. They have great Christmas meal options – you were going to spend the dollars anyway and this can save you time and stress.
- Focus on the positives in your relationship. Yes, I know this is not easy when there is a constant stream of visitors, food to prepare, kids constantly wanting to know if Santa has left the North Pole yet and will he really eat all those biscuits? And on top of all this – 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 counsellor 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 (nope, yelling is not talking). If you do need help and support, ask for it, either from each other or someone else.
To ensure you both survive Christmas and 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.
Once you understand your money differences, you need to embrace them because they can often be complementary. In a trusting relationship these differences work well together, particularly when there’s a plan and common financial goals in place.
One more thing. You don’t need get yourself into debt trying to prove to others that you love them and how much you care. You don’t have to do it. They will already know.
While you’re here, take our free Money Personality quiz.