How the Holidays Can Be a Marriage’s “Last Straw”[ssba]
The holidays put any problems a couple is already having under a magnifying glass.
Things can seem worse than they are. That’s because stress levels are higher, bank accounts are lower, and guest rooms are fuller.
You’ve got so much going on, and you’re not as happy as the families you see on TV or even your own Facebook feed. This leads to a lot of couples reaching a breaking point, and declaring the holidays the last straw.
Holidays are known as a time for giving gifts. That can put a great deal of pressure on couples with financial problems.
One partner might want to host a lavish shindig or buy a Playstation 4, while the other person is trying to stick to a strict budget. Being on uncertain financial footing can also lead to fights: “Why aren’t you earning more money?” “Why aren’t you managing our finances better?”
Money is the most popular thing that couples fight about. And it’s never more of an issue than it is over the holidays.
Family Gathering Friction
Tom and Joanne have been married for 19 years. They spend every Christmas with Joanne’s parents… who hate Tom. Tom’s father-in-law constantly asks him why he isn’t earning more money. Joanne’s mother tells her daughter, “Honestly, I never understood what you saw in him.”
Family gatherings can be a source of tension, especially if you’re in a situation similar to Tom and Joanne’s. Even if you only see these relatives once a year, their criticism can remind you of the other things wrong with your relationship.
Even if you get along with your family, having them in your home or staying with them is a break from your routine. Your kids are wired because they’re not seeing the same meal or bedtime schedule, which takes a toll on you.
Expecting Perfection in the Face of Reality
Humans aren’t perfect. Yet, we long to be just like the glossy images in magazines and on television of smiling families celebrating the holidays together. Social media doesn’t make things any easier – we envy our friend’s pictures of gorgeously decorated trees and snowy scenes at the cottage.
What we don’t see is the screaming and insults flung at one another as the decorations went up. Maybe they got lost on the way to the cottage and yelled at one another for not reading the directions properly. The facade of perfection won’t last forever, and the holidays are a great time for it to start cracking.
Take Time to Decompress After the Holidays
But don’t throw in the towel just yet. Again, all of these problems are likely not as big as they seem. Your tension is higher and that can make problems seem overwhelming over the holidays.
Take a bit of time when the holiday mess is cleaned to re-evaluate things. You will have a clearer head and will be more likely to find ways to fix or work on marital issues.
Try a fresh start in the new year.
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