There’s a reason that we all seem to crash come January 1st, aside from the one-too-many glasses of champagne and exhaustion of partying until the early hours of the morning. New Year’s Eve marks the end of a month(s)-long holiday season consisting of more social gatherings, more food and more alcoholic beverages than almost any other time of year. Not only are you and your S.O. probably exhausted, but you’re feeling more tense and under pressure than usual. “When you feel stress and pressure, the little things bother you more, you have less patience and you're not able to deal with life situations as calmly and rationally as you would ordinarily,” says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great and professor at Oakland University.
Sound familiar? We totally get it. But there are solutions for putting out even the most intense emotional fires that catch flame among the stressors brought on during the holidays and new year. Here, relationship experts reveal the most common arguments couples have this season and how to resolve them for a harmonious start to 2018.
What to do on New Year’s Eve
To stay in or not to stay in, that is often the question between couples fraught over NYE plans, most of the time due to the fact that December 31st is an expensive night. One of you might want to relax on the couch with your fur baby, while the other prefers to party the night away with friends or family. “This is a common fight because, often times, there are differences within a couple,” says Dr. Orbuch. “The best solution is to compromise—all relationships are a give and take.” Can you do one thing New Years Eve, and the other New Years Day? Can you do both—or a little of both? Finding a way to satisfy both of your needs will make for a positive start for 2018.
How to spend money on New Year’s Eve
Unless you have close friends throwing a party, you can expect to pay surge prices at bars and restaurants. After already spending so much during the holiday season on gifts for loved ones as well as parties and dinner celebrations, New Year’s Eve can be feel like a make-it-or-break-it burden on your budget. To avoid this, Dr. Orbuch suggests sitting down and discussing your short- and long-term goals for holiday spending before the season arrives. “Make a list of things you need to spend money on, want to spend money on and ‘might’ spend money on,” she says. “Compromise if the two of you disagree and remember that you may differ in what money means or represents to you.”
Where you see yourselves in the new year
Whether you just started dating or have been married a few years, most couples aren’t always on the same page when it comes to the pace of progress in the relationship. Maybe he’s ready to be exclusive when you’re not totally sure if you want to be tied down, or she’s ready to start trying for a baby and you feel like you just walked down the aisle. “The new year is often a time of reflection,” explains Rachel Needle, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. “Many people will look at the past year and realize what they want to do differently and what’s important to them in the new year. When couples are not on the same page in terms of what they want or things they want to do differently, this can lead to arguments. “It is important for couples to communicate their thoughts, feelings and desires with each other,” she says. “Making new year's resolutions as a couple can both strengthen the relationship bring partners closer together.”
Unrealistic or unmet expectations
Along with the stress and tension that tends to trail the holiday season, many individuals might be looking for their partner to “step it up” in certain areas of the relationship. For you, that might be in the gift department or a willingness to participate in social commitments. “There are a lot of expectations put on this one season to be fun, over the top, romantic and without any issues,” Dr. Needle explains. “Especially for those who did not follow through with their previous year’s resolutions or for those who fell short of their expectations of themselves and their plans, new years is a time that can bring anxiety, stress and guilt.” Whatever it might be, this is where communication seriously comes in handy. Dr. Needle suggests not letting feelings fester and, instead, calmly addressing any emotions that arise on the spot, or as soon as possible to avoid them bottling up and exploding into a raging fight.
Family and children overload
With so many family and friends gatherings, often which include little children running around, it’s important not to forget to preserve your private couple time. “Too much kid time with either your own or your nieces and nephews can stress you to the max!” says Deb Castaldo, Ph.D., couples and marriage therapist and author of Relationship REBOOT. “Make sure you schedule in private time for just the two of you doing the things that make you feel close and fulfilled in your marriage.” In other words, go for that walk or private dinner—your family will still be there when you get back and it will help you keep your stress levels to a minimum.
All in all, it's perfectly normal to bicker more than usual during the holidays, which is why it’s that much more important to focus on strengthening the foundations of your relationship before the season arrives. “Take a look at whether or not you are being good companions, making important decisions together, setting boundaries with extended family, collaborating on your holiday budget and keeping your fun and intimacy healthy throughout the holiday season,” says Dr. Castaldo. “And remember, when it comes to partying, overeating, and that holiday punch, sometimes less is more!”