Photo by Fred Moon

Christmas is a turbulent time for most couples. There is always so much to do. Getting presents, cleaning, cooking, decorating, meeting relatives…

Celebrating Xmas as an adult can actually be a bit of a nightmare!

All this extra added stress puts a strain on every relationship. That’s why so many couples fight more during the holidays.

In fact, Christmas time tends to be a pretty bad time for a lot of married couples. So much so, that divorce numbers spike in the months afterward.

Therefore it’s so important to try to avoid the unpleasant conflicts and prevent the damage those would cause in your relationship.

Gabriel and I used to fall into the same pitfalls and fight over cooking, cleaning, presents, etc too.

But we figured out a way out and we rarely fight during Christmas anymore. Here is how we did it:

#1 Putting Your Relationship First Is A Must

Christmas is all about family time.

But it’s important to remember that when you’re married or in a committed relationship your spouse/partner and your kids are your NEW FAMILY.

They are your responsibility and they should be your priority. Not your parents and not the in laws.

Both parents, as well as in laws, can be needy sometimes. But if you want to avoid these dreadful holiday fights, you have to be ready to put your relationship first.

Your needs as a couple have to come first.

Relatives’ needs have to become secondary.

Their happiness is not your responsibility, on the other hand, your own and your partner’s well being is.

When Gabriel and I started to treat each other as a priority during Christmas, it made our holiday so much more RELAXED!

And yes, it was extremely hard to say “no” to some of our parent’s wishes and demands, but the benefits for us were absolutely immeasurable.

We actually spent that first Christmas day, just the two of us in our PJs playing video games all day long. We had so much fun! And it felt like being carefree kids again. 🎮

Putting your relationship above relatives is very tricky. They generally fight tooth and nail to prevent it from happening.

Ours certainly did.

But as an adult, you’ve gotta be able to fend for yourself and set boundaries where they’re needed.

#2 Don’t Obsess About Trying To Get Everything Perfect

There is always so much to do when preparing for Christmas.

You first have to get the house sparkling clean, decorate, wrap the presents and then there is all the cooking and baking. It all takes a lot of EFFORT.

The pressure to get everything done and on time can be immense.

I’ve noticed from my own experience, whenever I’m trying to get things done perfectly, I’m far less likely to accept help and at the same time, I’m a lot more susceptible to getting angry and impatient.

It’s like a vicious cycle, where I inevitably end up stuck with a really long list of tasks that I end up having to complete all by myself.

When you’re stressed and on edge the whole time, even a tiny spark can jump start an awful holiday fight.

“Why are there still crumbs in that corner?!”

“Why did you put all the red decorations here and the gold ones there?!

It was supposed to be the other way around!”

“You distracting me with YOUR problems made me just BURN ALL MY COOKIES!”

There is just so much that can go wrong during Christmas. That’s why it’s so important to take the pressure off.

The dishes/decorations don’t need to be perfect! What’s gonna happen if the napkins don’t match the color of the table cloth or if there is one side dish less?


Worst case scenario your mother in law might frown at you and sigh with disregard. It’s not like she’s not going to find reasons to do that anyway.

If risking getting a disapproving look can save you a lot of work and prevent you from having a hurtful heated argument with your partner, that’s a really good trade-off!

So get ready to relax your standards, accept help and who knows, you might even have some fun preparing the Christmas feast this year! 😉

#3 Don’t Dismiss Your Partner’s Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own set of unique Christmas traditions.

Even when two people come from a very similar background, chances are they’re used to celebrating Christmas in slightly different ways.

For example, your partner might want to make slightly different dishes than the ones you have been intending on making. Or maybe they have always started Christmas dinner at 6 and you generally are always aiming for 9.

These differences in Christmas traditions often become points of conflict and might lead to some intense holiday fights.

It’s as though one person’s traditions contradict the other ones. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

You see I come from Poland, my traditional Christmas dinner consists of a variety of fish and cabbage-based side dishes.

Gabriel is half Austrian, half Swiss. He is used to having Turkey and gratin on Christmas eve.

Our Christmas dishes are just so vastly different, fighting about it might seem inevitable. We have found a really easy solution though.

Gabriel makes all of his own dishes, I make mine and then we share everything. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and we’re left with a ton of leftovers. But isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Here is why it’s so important to make room for your partner’s traditions:

People often get really emotional about upholding the Christmas traditions from their childhood because they’re often linked to some very precious memories.

That’s why people get so adamant about doing things their way during Christmas. Because these rituals are a means of re-living important moments.

Seemingly superficial things, like e.g. the type of sprinkles on the cookies, might have a far deeper meaning and significance to your partner than they do to you.

And vice versa, certain things you get emotional about, might seem laughable to your other half.

By laughing or rejecting your partner’s ways of doing things, you’re discarding what’s important to them. Of course, they’re going to immediately feel hurt and start an argument.

And vice versa. You’re very likely to get angry when they reject you.

That’s why in order to avoid holiday fights, it’s crucial to be extra understanding and never dismiss each other’s traditions.


Christmas is a trying time for a lot of couples. There are just too many things to fight about.

Letting out all that pent up frustration at your partner can have very severe consequences for your relationship. That’s why it’s extra important to be mindful of your own patterns and keep your priorities straight.

Remember, Christmas is not about having the best decorations or most elaborate dishes, it’s about giving and spending quality time with your loved ones.

That’s why to avoid holiday fights, you have to let go of trying to impress other people and focus on attending to your own and your partner’s needs instead.

Don’t worry about disappointing your relatives, they love you, so they’ll forgive you.

Try to let go of perfectionism and make room for both your own as well as your partner’s traditions and you won’t have much left to fight about!

What is your experience with holiday fights? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about it.


Karolina Bartnik