There are work parties to attend and Secret Santas to please. Money gets tighter as you try to get the perfect gifts. Meals need to be planned. Travel and get-togethers have to be coordinated. And you need to brace yourself to face your in-laws.

The radio may say this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” but have you listened to the lyrics of this classic song lately? Even back then, people knew about the stress involved in gearing up for the holiday season. It can be nice to have a partner to share these burdens with so it’s easier for both of you to cope, but be careful that you don’t let holiday stress spill over and become holiday fights.

Here are several ways to help avoid festive shouting matches:

Create a schedule. It might take a bit of time and a little back and forth, but if you and your partner come up with a plan ahead of time – who’s buying what, when are we seeing these friends or those family members – it will help to prevent last minute bickering.

Build in quality time. Let’s be realistic – you may not be able to squeeze date nights into your holiday planning. That’s okay, but make sure you set aside some one-on-one time and find ways to connect. Maybe it’s taking a relaxing bubble bath together while the kids are watching a holiday movie. Or sharing a glass of wine while you wrap presents. However you do it, find ways to be with and focus on your partner.

Be where you are. Once you create that plan, trust in it and try to make yourself forget about what you still need to do. Instead, enjoy what you are doing at that moment. The holidays are never going to work out perfectly and things may fall through, but focusing on potential future problems will only stress you out more and make you more likely to argue with your partner.

Indulge a little less. Everywhere you turn during the holiday season, it seems like someone is putting a glass of wine or a decadent dessert in your hand. These can be hard to pass up, but you should do your best to enjoy them in moderation. Not only will your waistline thank you later, so will your partner. Why? Because alcohol, sugar, and caffeine actually stimulate stress hormones and make you more liable to pick a fight.

When all else seems to fail, step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself it’s the season that’s stressing you out and not your significant other. There’s a reason why you invited this person into your life. If you still find that you and your partner are at each other’s throats due to seasonal stress, give the Portland relationship counselor a call.