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How to have a great love filled holiday

During the Individual and Couples Counselling Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Online I run Holiday Stress and arguments is a common reason people feel frustrated or fed up.

Typically there is a magical build up for the weeks leading up to Christmas, perhaps even months with children. Where the parties and celebrations are plentiful as one or both of you in the marriage are finishing off work for the year and looking forward to family time, there is a much hoped for dream that this Christmas will be different, that it will be amazing and even better than last year.

Sadly, for many families, this will not be the case as the supposed happiest time of the year often ends up being the most frustrating time of year. Often during the couple counselling or life coaching sessions in Dubai  or online I run Christmas causes all sorts of arguements and tension.

To help you have a love filled holiday (which is what we all want) there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of a great Christmas and New Year Holiday this year.

Team Work

Teamwork is a very important thing to remember during the holidays. Typically, in marriage, one person in the relationship tends to take responsibility for everything related to Christmas including the presents, social events, family organization, and activities.

This can cause conflict and during the holidays this conflict can grow because one person is in “job mode” during the holiday, and the other is highly likely doing everything they can not to be in “job mode” after a busy year.

At the core, both of you really want to relax and have fun with family and friends. Yet the reality is that you know that the holidays coexist with an even longer list of jobs that need to be done, alongside entertaining the kids 24/7, making sure everyone in the family gets the right presents, the wider family are thought of and included in all the planning, ensuring the food is plentiful and ready, the presents are wrapped and calendars organized.

Therefore it is important to work as a team and divide the tasks to have a fun and peaceful time during the holidays.

Start by making a list of all the jobs that need to be done and include one-off jobs and daily jobs, put the to-do list on the fridge and then when the time is right, sit down and talk through what needs to be done with your other half.  This has worked wonders for women who have come for couples counselling in Dubai, even if you are separated or divorce it can work with your children and perhaps extended family. The point is you don’t have to do everything on your own.



Remember problems with jobs and to-do lists can arise when either one of you is a perfectionist and is too judgemental or when one partner is nagging.

If problems do arise in your relationship and you find tensions rising then look at your own expectations first, were they unrealistic, too high?

Acceptance here is key, we all have our own way of doing things. In all the couples counselling Dubai and online sessions I go through the 5 A’s for a happy relationship these are Appreciation, Attention, Affection, Acceptance and Allowing. Accepting each other is a very important one.

I’ve had couples come to me after Christmas saying they argued over how one person

cuts the carrots uneven, or how the presents are wrapped with too much tape or how the dishwasher is not packed correctly and they always have to redo it to their way.

The couples later share with me that it was so not worth ruining the time over and they wish they had let go of wanting to be right and just took it easy.

Accept that when dividing tasks and working as a team things will be done differently and be happy regardless it’s not all on one of you.


Planning Ahead

If the sheer thought of dividing the to-do list over the holidays sends shivers down your spine and you know it’ll end in arguments then look at some of the following alternatives to make your lives that little bit easier this holiday.


Christmas Lunch

If you are hosting Christmas lunch at home and you know it’s going to be too stressful, particularly if you have additional children and extra guests, look at pre-preparing as much as possible a few weeks beforehand and freezing it.

Just about everything, except the turkey and a few vegetables, can be pre-cooked and put in the freezer a month in advance. Otherwise, it might be time to think about ordering in food or eating out and trying something different.



Leaving it until the last minute is what many people are doing more and more these days. Yet this can often add more stress.

What most people like most from their husband or wife is a thoughtful gift, one that shows I’ve thought about you, your likes and interests and found this for you.

If you have children then taking kids to busy shopping malls is stressful even on a good day. Instead of dragging them along with you, either do all the shopping before they finish school or consider hiring a babysitter and going out Christmas shopping together one evening together with your wife or husband and definitely go with a list in hand so that you can get it done as quickly and hassle-free as possible and also to give you time for a few post-shopping drinks together.


Limiting Screen Time

Phone and Ipad usage come up in almost every couple or individual I support to have a great relationship.

Sometimes couples argue over how much TV and Ipad usage the children are having and other times it’s about how much each other are playing games or on social media.

For children to make life easier, think ahead of fun activities and games they can do at home, take any toys or games out the night before and leave them out.

Consider starting the holidays with a screen plan. Perhaps it’s screen time for the first hour they wake up 7.30 to 8.30 a.m. and TV for 1 hour before bed. Whatever it is stick to it every day so that your children have some kind of structure and know what to expect.

Then you might want to have an agreement with each other for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day etc. Some couples agree on no phones at all or phones after 6 pm for an hour.

Try what works for you.



Adding alcohol into the mix of what can already be a stressful or emotional time for many, can often lead to more blow-ups.

Watch how much you drink, take it easy and don’t get into arguments or discuss the relationship whether you’re just tipsy or tanked up it’s never a good idea.

I’m not saying don’t have fun and let your hair down, just be mindful of what you say and do that’s all. As sometimes with alcohol repressed frustrations come to the surface and couples end up bickering instead of laughing. If you know alcohol causes issues for you as a couple then consider making some changes to the way you approach parties and change the way you have fun – if it’s not fun any more. I do hypnosis for alcohol changes the hypnotherapy is available in Dubai and online.


Be Realistic

Aiming for a stress-free holiday would be great but in reality, it’s so unrealistic. Holidays come with ups and downs; things burn in the oven, partners annoy us, kids fall over or get sick and end up at the doctor, spillages can ruin the new tablecloth and someone will always be unhappy about the gift they received.

What can make or break your holidays will inevitably come down to your attitude. If you can roll with the punches, be flexible when needed and remember what and who is important in your life (family time and fund) then day-to-day mishaps will be less likely to raise your blood pressure and your temper.


Take A Time Out

To help you cope when things to get heated opt for a few minutes alone time. Take yourself off somewhere quiet, the bedroom if at home or bathroom if staying with family, lock the door and take some deep breaths until you have calmed down.

If you are the sort of person who gets angry and irritated a lot by your partner or certain guests then it’s worth considering some positive, relax and let go hypnotherapy.

This is what I create and do for my clients to help them have a positive peaceful holiday, especially when staying with in-laws they may not click with. I give them a recording and they listen to it whenever they feel stressed.

Learning some breathing techniques to calm you the mind and emotions also work, research shows it takes 20 minutes for the body to cool down after you have got angry; so whether you take a shower, walk, read a book or do a mediation having an adult “time out” works.

Lastly, agree with yourself that no matter what you’re going to focus on enjoying the moment. Problems generally come and go and what was a big deal today will most likely be ok in the morning.


Communicate Your Feelings

However, if things do get out of control and you are angry or upset at your partner’s attitude or behavior, it’s important to voice your feelings and concerns, rather than let resentment fester.

Many couples don’t communicate their disappointment until way after the holidays and this does not give the person the chance to correct it and make it right. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader instead try to tell them what you would love to happen and where you need their help.

If you are unsure how to go about communicating your desires, creating change in the relationship and making the Christmas and new year special then hiring a couple therapist or counselor can be a good option.

Serious issues should never be pushed aside but discussed in the right place and at the right time so that the issues at hand can be resolved and a solution put in place for the new year ahead.

Sadly sometimes couples decide that’s it, they can’t be together because of a stressful Christmas; don’t let that happen to you. Act now to ensure you become one rather than two people co-existing.

I run couples counseling, hypnotherapy and life coaching in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Online. If you would like to find out more, email me at to discuss and set up a time to talk. Taking action and researching options can also make us feel better, as we are moving towards what we want, a happy life and home.

Lot’s of love, Nicola

Mila TutorMila Tutor
07:10 25 Mar 23
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06:58 25 Mar 23
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12:54 17 Mar 23
Thank you for destroying my relationship. My partner reached out for support and you advised him that there is nothing for him to heal and that he should send his girlfriend for therapy, like this is your place to tell him. I’ve been through therapy myself and I know how to make the difference between a good therapist and someone who just wants to get more money, and the second seems to definitely be your purpose!
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19:13 10 Nov 22
Nicola’s support and advice proved invaluable when my marriage was struggling. Over a series of meetings (online and fact to face, to suit our needs), Nicola helped steer us through a very difficult time. She was always calm, neutral and never made us feel like we had failed or had ‘messed up’. Nicola has a wealth of experience and keeps up with current research, but has a very unique approach to getting you back on track. With regular support materials and just being there, she helped us realise that our relationship could go on; by making us look at ourselves and helping us consider the tools we needed to move forwards. I can honestly say that I don’t think our marriage would have survived such a difficult time without Nicola’s expertise. I often listen to Nicola’s podcasts on Spotify when I’m needing a bit of extra support. Thank you, Nicola
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17:19 20 Oct 21
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