This month’s Ask Coach Kathy discusses how to validate your mate’s emotions as you navigate through the holiday season.
My wife and I are disagreeing on Christmas this year. She’s afraid to spend the amount we usually do on gifts for the family because of the uncertainty of the virus. She wants to have a nice family meal and forgo any gifts. I take such joy in giving gifts and can’t imagine Christmas without presents under the tree. Any suggestions?
I recommend you both sit down in a non-conflict moment and let each other voice your concerns or thoughts around gift-giving. The key to a successful, difficult conversation is each of your ability to prove you hear the other’s feelings around the situation. It is paramount that you each validate each other’s emotions around this sensitive topic. Below is an example of what validating looks like and what it doesn’t look like:
Mate #1 “I really want a simple Christmas this year. I’m worried we might spend too much money and regret it.”
Mate #2 – not validating – “Don’t be silly. Christmas only comes once a year. We’ll be fine.”
Mate # 2 – validating – “It sounds like you feel stressed about the possibility of racking up debt during the holidays, especially with the financial uncertainty during the virus.”
Mate #2 – “I’ve been depressed ever since this pandemic started. I really need to feel some holiday cheer and gift-giving does that for me.”
Mate #1 – not validating – “I don’t think it’s healthy to expect material things to help with feeling depressed. I think we should be grateful for what we have this year.”
Mate #1 – validating – “What I think you’re telling me is that these last 10 months have weighed heavy on you and you need something to look forward to, especially during the holidays.”
Once you and your wife validate each other’s feelings, which are not right or wrong, then you can sit down and work as a team to come up with a way you can feel the joy of gift-giving and she can feel less stress around the idea. Perhaps creating a budget around gift-buying or deciding on homemade gifts. Whatever you decide, neither of you will get your way 100%, but you’ll each get some of what you want!
Do you have sensitive issues in your relationships that you need help with? Ask Coach Kathy about it. Submit your question to Coach Kathy using the form below: