When you imagine the holidays, you probably think about beautifully decorated dining room tables, perfectly cooked turkeys, twinkling candles, and everyone you love smiling and laughing in ugly sweaters that somehow don’t look nearly as hideous in your fantasies. But, let’s be real here: No one’s holiday plans actually turn out like that!
The holidays are when we throw down with the people we love the most. Whether it’s politics or just the usual family drama, fights are bound to happen. And, unfortunately, the person we fight with more than anyone else is our significant other. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together for 5 months or 5 years—you’re going to bicker and get on each other’s nerves, no matter what.
Here are the 7 things you’re definitely going to fight about this holiday season, just so you can start preparing yourself for the inevitable.
1. How to handle your family’s fucked up political views.
Political discussions are always a shit show, but this year the drama is going to be off the charts. You might be with someone who likes to wait until after dinner to challenge Aunt Grace’s bigoted tirades, or you might be with someone who likes to yell about politics with a face full of stuffing and it makes you super uncomfortable. Either way, you should probably figure out how you want to respond to family bullshit before you get to the table, that way you don’t end up in the hallway whispering “you’re embarrassing me” back and forth at each other with increasing amounts of rage.
2. How long you’ll be forced to cope with the in-laws.
There’s no place like home for the holidays—that is, until you have to split your time between your house, his mom’s house, his dad’s new house with his stepmom, and your grandma’s condo with her much younger boyfriend. If you wake up at 5am, skip breakfast, and drive 125mph on the highway, you might be able to make it everywhere you need to go by midnight. The first step to avoiding conflict is realizing you do not have time for all this shit. Compromise, and try to make plans that don’t leave you or your families feeling shorted.
3. How cheap you want to be.
So, you make three times as much money as your partner. Or, maybe they make more than you. Either way, you should probably work together to come up with a functional budget for gifts, food, parties, and other holiday expenses, otherwise you’ll spend the rest of the season screaming about credit card bills instead of kissing under the mistletoe.
4. How much time you’re spending together.
The holidays are about spending time together, but not that much time, amirite? Between the extra days off, the travel time, the dinners and parties, and sharing a twin bed at your parent’s house, you might be ready to kill each other by the time New Year’s rolls around. There’s a reason people hang out at bars alone on Christmas Eve. They’re not really lonely, they just wish they were.
5. Whose fault it is that you’re behind schedule.
If you can make it into the Uber at roughly the time you committed to the night prior, through airport security, and onto a plane and still like each other even a little bit, your relationship is healthier than most. Holiday travel stress is real, and it’s nightmarish, and there’s a good chance you’re going to take it out on each other simply because it’s illegal to start punching random jerks in the airport terminal. Bring headphones, take deep breaths, and try to remember you used to be attracted to this person for some reason.
6. How to handle your to-do list.
A New Year’s Eve party sounds like an awesome idea, until you realize you have to deep clean your apartment, buy $400 worth of booze and snacks, and redecorate your entire living room. No matter how you divide up the chores, one of you is bound to feel like you’re the one getting stuck with all the work, cooking, shopping, and cleaning. Try not to keep score. Better yet, just channel your rage into some steamy sex so you can at least get a break from the endless piles of laundry and dishes.
7. How to squeeze in all your weird-ass traditions.
No two families celebrate the holidays the exact same way. In fact, lots of families don’t even celebrate the same holidays. Whether you come from different religions or you just have conflicting ideas about when is the best time to open presents, take a second to let your partner know what’s on your holiday tradition wish list. After all, they can’t make homemade latkes or carve out a time to attend midnight mass if they don’t know that’s what you’re expecting.