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How to get along with your spouse during the holidays

Under the best of circumstances, the combination of extended family dinners, gift shopping excursions and financial pressure make the holiday season a stressful time. If you and your spouse have been fighting more than enjoying each other, getting to January can seem all but impossible - but keeping the family together for the holidays is often a priority for both couples.

With the New Year comes the opportunity to pursue a new beginning, which may be with or without your partner. In the meantime, the following three strategies can help you face the holiday season with a brave face for your children and relieve some of the stresses that you and your spouse are experiencing.

Allow yourself to release the pressure

The holidays may be special, but ultimately they are just another day. Going overboard with excitement and needing the holiday season to be perfect builds stress and creates unrealistic expectations. Allow yourself to be content with holidays that are less-than-perfect. You will find it easier to weather the storm instead of feeling like you're just struggling through impossible expectations.

Acknowledge the problem and make a plan

It can be difficult if you and your spouse have gotten into a cycle of fighting, but sitting down and recognizing the problem together can allow both of you to make a plan for the season that you both can live with. This means that you both need to commit to addressing the situation instead of fanning the flames of your ongoing arguments. This plan isn't meant to be a long-term solution to your martial issues. This is a short term solution designed to allow both of you to worry more about immediate triggers than deep-seated problems.

Be the bigger person

Depending on the issues in your marriage and your spouse's disposition, working together to get through the holidays may be easier said than done. In this case, take it upon yourself to swallow your pride and deescalate heated situations before they blow up. It may not be fair, but remember: your goal is to survive the holidays, not win the argument.

Keep in mind that this advice assumes that you and your spouse are in a safe (if unhappy) relationship. If abuse enters the picture, know that getting out of your marriage now is better for you, your children and your extended family. In all cases, if divorce is the ultimate long term solution to your martial unhappiness, a divorce attorney experienced in the practice of matrimonial and family law can provide invaluable assistance - either now or at the beginning of the New Year to help you live happily ever after.

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