Family issues, money issues, scheduling issues, planning issues, shopping issues - does this sound like a list of wedding issues? It is, but it's also a list of winter holiday issues. Some of the biggest stressors of the holiday season coincide with some of the biggest engagement stressors. So, it's no surprise that even couples who generally make it through the wedding process with limited stress wind up a little stressed around the holidays.

Three big issues tend to come up for engaged couples in November and December. We present them now to give you a little time to prepare.

How to spend the holidays

Most of us don't get a lot of vacation time and if you're engaged, you may be trying to save what little vacation time you do get for your honeymoon. So, you may be determined to make the most of any time off work during the winter to try and get wedding tasks done. This is not the best idea. For one thing, you need to decompress a little. For another, your wedding vendors have family, too. They do not want to spend Christmas Eve talking with you about your wedding (unless your wedding is actually on Christmas Eve). 

That doesn't mean the holiday season has to be totally wedding-free. If you're going to see family and friends that you don't normally see make sure to make good use of this time to get their opinions and thoughts. If you're engaged to someone who wants to watch football on Thanksgiving and you don't, break out the magazines or the DIY projects and use that time to work on them.

Where to spend the holidays

In some relationships whose house to spend the holidays at can be an ongoing source of tension. If each person in the couple has two sets of parents and two sets of traditions, trying to meld them all can be stressful. This is especially the case if the relationship is mixed in terms of culture or religion. These tensions become much worse once you're engaged. No one may admit it, but you, or your parents, may see your decision to spend Thanksgiving at your future mother-in-law's as a lifetime decision. In reality, it's good for you and your fiancé to start setting boundaries and making your own holiday plans and decisions, but there's no reason to see any one decision as a lifetime decision. Talk to your families and make sure they understand.

What to spend on the holidays

Maybe you come from a family where everyone makes homemade gifts and your fiancee is used to lavish presents. Maybe you were hoping your mother would slip you a nice gift card and she's hoping you understand the money she's spending on your wedding IS your Christmas present. As much as we all know that it's the thought that counts, we can't help but think that what people gives us shows us what that thought is.

Having an honest and thoughtful discussion about money and presents is important not just to get through this holiday season, but to have a successful marriage.

How to cope

There are a lot of other ways the holidays can increase wedding stress as well. If you're dieting for your wedding, trying to ignore holiday goodies can be difficult. You may be seeing people during the holidays with a lot of advice and thoughts about your wedding, and you just may be too busy. A lot of people assume that the holidays are a totally joyful time of year. A lot of people also assume that being engaged is a totally joyful time of life. Most of us know that both of those ideas aren't completley true. Give yourself permission to recognize the stress and defeat it. Take a daily walk, go for a massage, or just drink a glass of wine and watch stupid TV.

Photo Credits (in order)

Destination Weddings

Wedding Wire

Dann Clothing