Smart tips to prevent Christmas conflicts as a couple

It is vox pópuli that the couple breakup rate increases after the holidays. Specifically at Christmas, one of the triggers of conflicts is usually family commitments. That, as its name suggests, occur “whether we like it or not”, generating tension and stress in relationships. That stress – one of the great global epidemics – can seriously damage the health of the relationship.

The good news is that there is an effective antidote: empathy. Understanding our partner emotionally avoids the wear and tear caused by Christmas conflicts. And that’s where the concept of emotionally intelligent couples comes in.

Emotionally intelligent, what exactly does it mean?

The concept of emotional intelligence was popularized by two American researchers from Yale University (Peter Salovey y John Mayer in 1990) and spread worldwide by the psychologist, philosopher and journalist Daniel Goleman in 1995.

It could be defined as the ability to perceive and understand one’s own feelings and emotions, to later regulate and manage them. All this information allows us to discriminate between emotions and thus guide thought… and also action.


The American psychologist John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington (USA), says that expressing emotions is a gift that some people give us. If this gift is given to us by our partner, it is even more precious. Because it can be considered a way of connecting (or trying to connect) between two people.

Emotional expression only constitutes one part of emotional intelligence, which would be included in the pillar of emotional perception: if I am able to perceive or identify an emotion, I will be able (or will be more capable of) expressing it.

Have emotional intelligenceFurthermore, it implies being able to understand emotions and thus understand how thoughts and behavior influence. Likewise, self-knowledge is key to emotional regulation.

Tips for becoming emotionally intelligent couples

We have all heard or read the phrase “love is over, and that’s why the relationship was broken.” To this I add a key aspect: not all breakups are due to a lack of love. For the most part, what is lacking is the emotional intelligence to face difficult situations. And this is one of the keys to a successful and lasting relationship: conflict management.

It helps to become emotionally intelligent couples:

  1. Express and accept complaints. Nobody is perfect. It is healthy to express and accept complaints. Of course, always in a respectful, calm way and being aware that he or she will also have complaints. If we don’t express, we explode (this is called emotional overflow).

  2. Do not attack the person. Turning a complaint into an attack only makes the situation worse. It is preferable to ask why they have done it and to use active listening in it.

  3. Find a joint solution to problems or conflict situations, based on mutual needs.

  4. Stick to the facts, without exaggerating things or generalizing, taking into account the joint responsibility of both parties. It is forbidden to use always, never, all, nothing …

  5. Know yourself. It is not only about developing sufficient emotional intelligence to know what we are feeling and why, but also being clear about our limits, insecurities, fears and needs.

Let’s not forget that coexistence is a constant negotiation. At Christmas and the rest of the year.

Patricia Flor Arasil, Staff, International University of Valencia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

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