Christmas is well on its way and according to London based data journalist David McCandless and Lee Byron two weeks before is a popular time for break ups.  The findings are shown in an infographic created for a book called The Visual Miscellaneum and is based upon analysis of Facebook updates. Multiple online dating sites also further confirm this, with data showing the most popular time for new signups is from late December through to late January.

There are many reasons people break up during this time. Stress being the number one factor. This time of year is very stressful and if there are already troubles in the relationship or unresolved issues they can be exacerbated by the extra pressure of the season and shine a light on things that have been a struggle. This time also causes us to think about the year that has been and the next year that will be. We think about our goals and what we want to achieve and if the person we are with is going to be a part of that phase. We start considering the longevity of a relationship and how happy we are. There really isn’t another period of time where we think about the state of our relationships so clearly. But it is important to remember that at this time of the year, we may also be overthinking things, and in turn over-reacting.

The strength of a marriage is tested when decisions must be made. If partners have learned to discuss each issue with respect for each other’s perspectives, avoiding anger, disrespect or demands, Christmas decisions draw them together and increase their love for each other. That’s because their decisions take the feelings of both into account simultaneously. They create a Christmas that is enjoyable for the entire family.

But in bad marriages, conflicts are not resolved with mutual consideration. Instead, couples try to force decisions on each other without taking each other’s feelings into account. That leads to a Christmas filled with resentment and unhappiness.

If you are finding yourselves in conflict here are four steps that could assist you with each decision you make about the way you will be celebrating Christmas.

  1. Set ground rules to make negotiations pleasant and safe.

Before you start to talk to your spouse about a conflict you have about Christmas or about something in the lead up to Christmas, make sure that you follow these rules: (a) be pleasant and cheerful throughout your discussion of the issue, (b) put safety first – do not threaten to cause pain or suffering when you negotiate, even if your spouse makes threatening remarks or if the negotiations fail, and (c) if you reach an impasse, stop for a while and come back to the issue later.

Under no conditions should you be disrespectful or judgmental of your spouse’s opinions or desires. Your negotiations should accept and respect your differences. Otherwise, you will fail to make them pleasant and safe, and resolution can be pushed further out.

  1. Identify the issue in question from the perspectives of both you and your spouse.

Be able to explore each other’s position regarding a particular decision about a Christmas activity before you try to find a resolution to your conflict. Be sure you don’t argue with each other — just get to know how you both feel regarding the issue. What do you both want and why do you want it? Find the answers to those questions.

  1. Brainstorm with abandon.

Spend some time thinking of the different ways to resolve the conflict, and don’t correct each other when you hear of a plan that you don’t like – you’ll have a chance to eliminate undesirable possibilities during the fourth step. Write down every suggestion. If you give your intelligence a chance to flex its muscle, you will have a long list of alternatives.

  1. Choose the solution that is appealing to both of you.

From your list of solutions, some will satisfy only one of you but not both. However, scattered within the list will be solutions that both of you would find workable. Among those solutions that are mutually satisfactory, select the one that you both like the most. If none of them meet with your enthusiastic agreement, go back to step 3 and continue to brainstorm.

By choosing to mutually agree to help you decide how you spend Christmas, neither of you will be controlled by the other, because you are not being forced to do anything. You are simply being prevented from gaining at the other’s expense. That’s not control, it’s thoughtfulness and consideration.  It’s about recognising that there is a time and place to deal with conflict, but it’s important to be present for Christmas day.

These steps are useful for any type of conflict that arises, not just Christmas. If you find yourselves at an impasse we are available to help you resolve your disputes in a respectful and smooth manner and help you mediate your way to a better relationship.  SHAW Mediation are available to resolve issues that need outside assistance.  Why not get in touch and get Christmas sorted early and be able to enjoy the festive season.

Let’s Talk!