How to avoid crisis in your marriage during the holidays
Written by Craig Cherney

How to avoid crisis in your marriage during the holidays

When a marital problem seems too great to overcome, it can be difficult to even make it through dinner with your spouse. A crisis in your marriage during the holidays can be even harder since it fills a joyous time with additional pressure and emotional stress.

Several issues can trigger a crisis in your marriage during the holidays. You may come face-to-face with family disagreements and financial imbalance. Your calendar is probably more full than you’d like, causing you to rush from one commitment to the next. On top of it all, you have the unique stress of trying to meet expectations of how wonderful the holidays are “supposed to” feel.

Holiday Pressure: A Recipe for Disaster

Many couples face holiday stress and angst. Just because your friends look happy during this holiday season, that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling, too. The causes of a crisis in your marriage during the holidays are also among the leading causes of divorce.

Here are a few ways to address some common causes of marital struggles during the holidays:

  • Communication. A lack of effective communication is frustrating at best. Passive-aggressive comments, sharp answers or a failure to share information can increase tension between you and your spouse. Last minute trips to the store to accommodate house guests your spouse forgot to mention can be the final straw in an already strained relationship. Taking five minutes at the beginning of the day to make mutual a game plan can help ease both of your minds. Find a way to communicate any changes or updates with your spouse.
  • Family. When your marriage is in “crisis mode,” you may be just one hair-strand away from a meltdown. Families often have to make choices about where they will spend the holidays. Finding a balance between all of the commitments can leave any couple feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Choosing how much time to spend with each side of the family can cause heated debates. Spend time to discuss your priorities before the holiday stress creeps in.  Play your cards face and be fully transparent, your spouse will appreciate your candor.
  • Lack of intimacy. The emotional and physical distance between you and your spouse may amplify during the holidays. There are plenty of distractions that can reduce your quality time together. Turn on the TV, and you’ll be bombarded with engagement ring advertisements, reminding you of the happy couple you once were. Find a way to connect, even if it’s just for a few minutes before you go to bed each night.
  • Money. Whether you have a lot or a little, couples often argue about money problems. The additional stress of holiday gifts and entertaining can bring financial chaos front and center. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help you and your spouse stay on the same page this holiday season.
  • Parenting philosophies. Over time, your parenting styles may change, for better or worse. Maybe your spouse wants to spoil your children with gifts, but you’d prefer to take a more simple approach this year. Communicate openly and honestly with each other.

Any of the examples listed might typically cause a minor disagreement. When you combine the pressure of the holidays with unclear expectations, it can be a recipe for disaster. Once you’re aware of the causes of your crisis during the holidays, you can move toward surviving it.

Surviving Crisis in Your Marriage During the Holidays

A crisis in your marriage can have an impact on even the most joyful days, making everything else seem difficult. Don’t forget the strongest holiday survival skill you have: only you can control how you react and how you interact with the world. Ask yourself if the problem at hand will matter to you a year from now. Sometimes, it’s best to take a step back and remove yourself from the stressful situation until you can regain your composure.

When it comes to a crisis in marriage, the holidays are a good time to procrastinate. You and your spouse can agree to postpone arguments until the holidays have passed. You can even set a date to continue the discussion: January 2. A new year may bring a new perspective.

Other ways to survive when you have a crisis in your marriage during the holidays include:

  • Be objective. Memories and baggage can skew your perception during the holidays. Remember your commonalities and try to reunite using your strengths as a couple.
  • Create a safe space for your kids. The holiday magic is actually very real for them. You and your spouse should agree to preserve their memories of this year’s holidays. Remember, kids see and hear everything.  If you are bickering with your spouse, do it behind closed doors.
  • Give yourself a present. Taking time for yourself can remind you of the value you bring to your family. Brunch with friends, a relaxing bath or simply enjoying your favorite cup of coffee can all feel like a gift.

Family First and Forever

If you’re suffering a crisis in your marriage during the holidays, Best Legal Choices can help you explore your options. We are a family-first group of legal, financial and communication professionals helping couples navigate any legal crisis into a better future.

Sometimes a crisis damages a relationship so much that it can’t be repaired. The professionals at Best Legal Choices offer you access to the trained professionals you may need to resolve your marital dispute as efficiently and affordably as possible. Collaborative divorce may be a solution for your family. Contact us to explore your options.