The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

holidays put stress on most marriagesThe Holidays Add Stress to Most Relationships

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s…It’s supposed to be the happiest, most wonderful time of the year. For some it is. Not everyone. For many, it’s a time filled with stress, and often leads to arguments between couples. Sometimes it results in bad things – from hurt feelings and silence to flying off the handle blowups and domestic violence.

“Divorce Month” follows the Holiday Stress

It wouldn’t surprise a lot of married people that January is (unofficially) called “divorce month.” After months of lockdowns, January 2021 could be a record-breaker!

With so many people out of work, working from home, and home schooling, this holiday season may be the most challenging for couples ever. It’s hard to be happy when you feel confined. It gets harder when you can’t visit your family, or can’t buy gifts because you aren’t even paying your bills on time, and you’re stuck in the house for what seems like forever.

Will this season go down as the worst in your life? Maybe. Unless…

If there’s one thing Covid confinement has given so many of us,  it’s a focus on what matters most in life. Many – maybe you – are surprised by how much family matters. Not that you didn’t know it before, but Covid brought those feelings home for so many of us – and in a whole new way. Yet, at the same time, in most households, tensions have been running high.

During this unique holiday season, if you’re home alone with your family and missing the usual parties and family gatherings, here are a few things you can do to make your holidays bright.

Have a Plan to Deal with Holiday Stress.

Do you want to be Santa or the Grinch. If it’s Grinch, no more work necessary. But if it’s Santa, then sit down with your sweetie and decide how you’re going to do the next two weeks. It’s going to take some mental and emotional effort, but the plan will be your guide.

While making a plan is mostly for you two, if you have kids, bring them into it and ask for their cooperation.

What to Include in Your Stress Management Plan:

  • Be nice. Covid confinement doesn’t feel good, and everyone knows it. It’s sucked the politeness and kindness out of many of us. And, of course, our loved ones are likely to be the most affected. We’re more likely to make an  effort with “outside” people, but let our guard down for those closest to us. That’s a recipe for disaster. So agree to make an extra effort to be nice. Start with saying please, thank-you, and excuse me.  And keep track. Make a point to notice at least five things each day and thank your sweetie. Just that tiny courtesy can soften stress and create a positive shift in energy – both in you and with them.
  • Make space for crabby. It’s hard to feel love, kindness, and tenderness when you are hurting – and you feel like nobody is listening or cares. You feel “crabby” and show it. So give your crabbiness an outlet in a short but acceptable way; it’s simpler to do than you might suspect. At the end of each day, you and your sweetie can take ten minutes (five minutes each) to express your anger, sadness, fear, or pain. No feedback necessary because this is for venting. Include your kids if you want. Note: this isn’t a “pointing fingers” time but judgment-free zone for expressing how you feel.
  • Say “I love you and I care about you” to each other daily. When was the last time you said it – honestly and deeply? When was it that you focused on each other, looked into each other’s eyes, and said the words with feeling? It’s really hard to be mean to each other when you know the person you’re being mean to really loves you…and vice versa.

What happens next: Assess if your Plan Worked

After the New Year rolls in, decide how the plan worked for you. Did it revive forgotten good feelings? Did it rekindle your love? If it worked well, you can make your plan part of a New Year’s resolutions.

Or, maybe working your plan helped you both recognize that you need some outside help. That might mean you need a simple tune-up or a reset. Or it could let you know you have a problem that needs third-party help. Marriage therapists have seen a huge uptick in business – and most are willing to do online visits. It could be a relationship-saver!

The Holiday Season of 2020 will be one for the books for sure – for lot of reasons. For you, let this Covid Christmas be one to remember…for the good, not the sad.

You can Fix a Relationship that is Off-Track!

Many couples find that their relationship got off-track over the past few years. Covid confinement brought  that realization to the forefront. You still love  each other, but with kids, carers, the house…and everything…you got off track. What you need is a reset…and I have it for you.  Learn more: Relationship Reset

Did you enjoy this article? Please SHARE it!

What is the Five-Year Marriage®?

Created by Annmarie Kelly, the Five-Year Marriage® is a concept of restructuring marriage agreements every five years to take into consideration external and internal changes happening to each person in the relationship. This periodic assessment of each person’s happiness, fulfillment, obligations and goals creates a safe space for each person to grow and change, together. The result is a relationship that grows stronger and more intimate over time. This collection of articles is a dep dive into the  different concepts proposed in the book, The Five-Year Marriage® and deserve a space for additional exploration and discussion.

Communication skills for couples

Five Year Marriage

Featured On

amk featured on marie clair magazine
philly inquirer logo
pbs logo
five year marriage featured on growth marriage podcast