How to Keep the Holidays Fight-Free Between You and Your Mate

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Did your mother just diss your mate’s cooking and she’s giving you that look? Are you annoyed about spending Christmas at your in-laws? Is your sweetie in a bad mood and lashing out at you? Is he having to work late again? Do you feel a fist-fight about to erupt with the person you love? Stop aggression on the home front dead in its tracks with these emotion modifiers:

Avoid button-pushers. Don’t be aggressive and provoke an argument with sensitive issues, manipulate, or be rude. Discuss openly later at an appropriate time and place.

 Compromise. Give a little. Take turns. Suggest ways you can both get what you want.

 Don’t match their hostility. You could start a nasty shouting match. Stop. Breathe. If they are shouting, speak calmly and with compassion and sincerity in response.

 Be a good listener. Show empathy. React with kindness and understanding. Sometimes that’s all your partner wants. Cut them some slack. Put yourself in their shoes.

 Ask them what’s really bothering them and how you can make it better. Hurt and anger can take on various disguises. Coax them to get at the root of the problem. Just asking may help.

 Do something nice for them. Send them off for an afternoon to a spa or gym or for a little shopping therapy. Leave a love note on the mirror or fridge. Take the kids off their hands for the day or send them off to their grandparents for the weekend.

 Spend time in a relaxing setting together. Go to a park, their favorite restaurant. Take in a romantic or funny movie at the theater.

 Make yourself scarce – except for the big holiday dinner or other planned events. Stay out of their hair temporarily ­– especially if you’re the source of their anger.