Gathering with your family and friends to share a festive meal at a crowded table can be the highlight of the year. The holidays are a time of celebration and appreciation; however, they can be an incredibly stressful time, too. Planning, shopping and over-extending commitments can make it easy for communication to deteriorate between couples, making it feel as if your relationship won’t survive the holidays.
Warning Signs Your Relationship May Not Survive the Holidays
Spotting the tell-tale signs that your relationship may not be working can be challenging when you’re distracted by the twinkle of the holiday season. To better understand where your marriage may be headed, here are seven of the common warning signs that your relationship won’t survive the holidays.
1. Absent Affection
If you notice your spouse is no longer using your pet name or giving you a kiss when they get home, trouble may be brewing. It’s often the little things that slowly break down a relationship.
2. Competing for Attention
A weakened relationship may not survive the holidays if one spouse is competing for attention with a screen. Whether it’s a phone, computer or television, it’s important to unplug during the holidays. Take time to talk to each other, whether it’s about upcoming plans or your hopes and dreams for your future together. Cultivating healthy, supportive communication will strengthen your relationship.
3. Conflicting Expectations about Intimacy
The holidays are a busy time of the year. When you and your spouse are on different pages about intimacy, it can create tension. The lack of connection can trigger feelings of rejection, doubt, resentment and more. If you’re worrying that your relationship won’t survive the holidays because of a lack of intimacy, talk to your spouse about what’s going on from their perspective.
4. Family Function Meltdown
You’ve probably been at an awkward holiday dinner when a couple starts fighting about something they talked about on the drive over. While you don’t have to ignore the problem forever, put your disagreements on hold until you can discuss them privately. Fighting at a family function can be a red flag that your relationship won’t survive the holidays.
5. Nice Moments are Never Enjoyable
If every conversation seems to turn into an argument, your relationship may be headed for trouble. When you and your spouse are interpreting an underlying tone or meaning with every comment the other person makes, it’s time to take a step back and think about your relationship. If you find yourself waiting for the fighting to begin, even at fun holiday events, you know something isn’t working. Your relationship shouldn’t be a battleground, but rather a safe haven of cooperation, support and understanding.
6. Resentful Gifting
It can be nerve-wracking to choose the perfect gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Picking something your spouse will love shouldn’t be one of the stressful items on the list. If this task feels more like a chore, it’s possible you may feel the same way about your relationship.
7. Sharing Stress
The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. How a couple handles it can be an indicator of how the marriage is doing overall. Are you taking your stress out on each other? Or are you supporting each other and working through it together? If you or your spouse are dumping years of built-up frustrations on each other, there’s probably a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, managing stress by using effective communication can strengthen your relationship.
What Makes the Holidays So Hard on Relationships?
Unrealistic advertising doesn’t translate well into real-world relationships. Whether it’s the perfectly decorated home or the family singing together around the fireplace, ads can build unrealistic expectations that add tension to a relationship. Often, people keep their expectations to themselves. Without communication, how does anyone know what you’re hoping for this holiday season?
Mother Nature can also contribute to the holiday struggle. As the daylight hours get shorter, people tend to feel more tired and irritable.
Extended family visits often accompany the holidays. Whether it’s nosey questions or houseguests that overstay their welcome, family can complicate a strained marriage. Relationships can buckle under the pressure of the additional expectations and demands.
Recognize the Warning Signs?
If you recognize a few of the warning signs that your relationship won’t survive the holidays, talk to your spouse. Maybe this year the perfect gift is therapy, either individually or together. Working with an unbiased counselor can help you whether to stay together or how to heal apart. Talking with someone outside of your marriage can show you areas where you can grow.
If you feel that ending the marriage is right for you, a collaborative divorce process may be an option.
Many people who are divorcing choose the collaborative process. – Linda Solomon, LPC, LCDC, LMFT, a Collaboartive Facilitator, Therapist and Trainer located in Dallas, Texas.
This type of divorce focuses on cooperation and communication to allow you and your spouse to come to a mutually agreeable outcome and move forward with your life. Contact a professional at Best Legal Choices to learn more.
30+ years providing a wide range of psychological services for Arizona’s children, adolescents, and adults. Experienced in family, criminal, domestic relations, and civil courts. Extensive background working with families in transition.