Christmas: Your relationship survival guide

A family sit around the table at Christmas. The text above reads: "Relationships at Christmas can be difficult"

Relationships at Christmas can be difficult

The festive season is known for bringing people together, but that doesn’t always feel like a good thing. Christmas can be a really intense experience for lots of people, bringing up difficult issues and sometimes leading to arguments and tension. Lockdown rules also make things that bit trickier.

It can be tough to adjust to this time, especially when you might not feel accepted or understood by your family. And then there are all the people you really want to see, but can’t.

Whether you’re struggling to maintain harmony at home, or you’re worried your relationship is fizzling out because you’re unable to see each other, we’ve got you covered with this survival guide. Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be offering support and advice on the main issues that might be difficult at this time of year.

How to cope with relationships at Christmas 

Being at home for Christmas can be really intense, and it can put a massive strain on relationships. Some of you might notice you’re arguing more than usual or are more easily irritated. That’s no surprise really, but fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep the peace.

Tips for coping with tension at Christmas:

  • Create a cosy, private nook for yourself. This will probably be your bedroom, but it might also be a corner of the living room or a chair in the garden. Keep it tidy and looking nice and it should feel like a nice space to escape to when you need some me-time.
  • Give each other space. Respect that your mum might want a bath in peace or your partner might want a private chat with their mates. Just because you’re at home together, it doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute of every day with each other.
  • Do nice things for each other. Make dinner for your housemate, help your sibling with their homework, offer your Dad a helping hand with his new potato growing project. Remember, kindness breeds kindness.
  • Talk about how you’re feeling. Feeling anxious? Worried? Upset? Try telling the people you live with. This should help you to feel better and may bring you closer together.
  • Nip conflict in the bud. If you can see a potential conflict brewing, try opening a conversation earlier rather than later. Bring it up in a calm, sensitive way and this should help to stop the conflict escalating.
  • Normalise the bickering. It’s normal to get on each other’s nerves when you’re together 24/7. Try to remember this rather than reading into it. Arguing more doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your relationship or friendship.

Extra tips for…

Christmas with family:  

  • Have a rota for jobs around the house. If people have set days for cooking or cleaning, there’s less room for arguing about whose turn it is.
  • Enjoy your time together. It’s not all going to be roses, but try to see this as an opportunity to spend some QT with your family.
  • Accept that you’re not going to agree on everything and that’s ok.

Christmas with housemates:

  • Remain social. If you’re feeling low or anxious it can feel easier to hide away in your room. But try doing things together like cooking, eating together, doing exercise videos, going out for your daily walk. This could be an opportunity to really bond.
  • Let things go. If you find yourself getting irrationally pissed off with your housemate for the way they eat their cereal, try to remember it is just that – irrational. It’s normal to feel irritated by silly things, but try keeping it to yourself.

Christmas with a partner: 

  • Have date night. Don’t let lockdown squeeze the romance out of your relationship – get yourself dressed up, cook up a storm and share a different kind of date night.
  • Squeeze in some me-time. Time by yourself is so important for your relationship. Go for your daily exercise by yourself, talk to your mates, basically don’t morph into each other.
  • Have more sex. Sex is a great way to pass time and if there was ever a time to focus on your sex life, it’s now. Use this time to talk to your partner about what you like, and get practising.

How to care for relationships when you’re apart for Christmas

So on the flipside, are those relationships struggling because of people having to celebrate separately. You might be missing your partner like crazy or worried what this will do to your friendships. So what can you do to keep those relationships alive?

I’m missing my partner…  

Try treating this time apart like a long-distance relationship and remember it won’t last forever. Video call regularly, or keep the romance alive by sending letters. And remember, if your relationship can survive this challenge, that’s a good sign!

What does this mean for my friendships? 

Missing your friends is horrible but try to focus on how great it will be when you can hang out again. Keep in touch regularly using social media and schedule phone calls and Zoom chats. You can get creative about video calls and write a quiz for your friends, do a skill swap (like painting or playing an instrument), or even have a karaoke session.

How to cope with spending Christmas alone

If you’re on your own for Christmas, it can feel really tough. This is a time when we’re ‘supposed to’ be with others, but it doesn’t have to feel like a bad thing. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to celebrate a day of me-time.

  • Treat yourself to your favourite food (why not go against the grain and have Mexican?)
  • Plan a movie marathon
  • Do some local volunteering
  • Go for a long walk and appreciate the quiet, empty streets
  • Join our online community of young people and have a chat

I’m struggling to cope with Christmas…

If you’re finding things really tough at home, for whatever reason, you’re not alone! So many people will be going through the same thing as you and The Mix are here to help. If you want to talk it through then get in touch with our free and confidential support services, who will listen and point you to the best advice.

Read our article on how to deal with corona-anxiety and our top 10 fun things to do to pass the time during lockdown.

Use our relationship tool to understand your relationship dynamic, and what you can do if it’s not as healthy as it should be.

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 02-Dec-2020