By Linda Nusbaum, licensed marriage and family therapist and CEO of CoupleMapping

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — No one plans to have an argument with a loved one. Usually, a fight just percolates and explodes, often without warning. Unfortunately, when the illusory magic of the holidays fades away, for millions of people, reality sets in. The season of finger-pointing is upon us, and when the shopping is done, there's a rush to recover quickly. In general, to avoid a ruinous pitfall, talk about issues before the fighting starts. Here are some more specific tips for preventing common arguments from ruining memories of holiday cheer.

"Why did you spend so much money?"

Leading up to the gift-giving holidays, people experience a sense of connectedness to the ones they love. This feeling — of making our loved ones happy – has an elixir affect. We swoon at what we imagine the reaction will be to surprise special people with that perfect gift. We fall happily into the idea of how joyful the moment will feel and so we open our wallets and let the credit flow. Everyone does this. You are not alone.

Unfortunately, that idea of happiness is short lived. It lasts while we are buying the gift. It diminishes a little after the purchase, but we still hold on to the imagined smile on our person's face. We anticipate feeling love and acceptance waiting for their reaction after opening the gift. That's the payoff. Sadly, that blissful feeling doesn't last. As soon as the wrapping is thrown away, everyone moves on to the next thing and a dull ache in the stomach might begin. Then comes the sobering thought: "Wow, we spent a lot of money this season." Then further recriminations: "You wanted to buy that for him." "I told you we couldn't afford it."

How do you avoid the blame and hurt feelings? Be open and upfront with your thoughts and feelings about spending money. Most couples have a hard time talking about money because most of us have a lot of emotions tied up to how we think about it. And each one of us has our own way of communicating about it.

Maybe you came from a home where your parents struggled to make ends meet and to feed you and your siblings. You learned that money was powerful and scarce and controlled many aspects of your family. You might have a very different relationship to money than someone who grew up well off. They might be more relaxed, seeing money as a necessary tool to afford life, but not a master to serve.

Whatever you learned about spending or saving money, it's important to understand yourself. Once you know how you relate to money, you can better talk with your spouse about your current feelings. You might be able to describe your worry, that your spouse might be mad because you spent more money than you should have. Maybe you could talk to them like this: