Holidays are often shown as a time of joy and good cheer, bringing the family together to celebrate and relax. However, experts suggest this can be far from the truth.
For many, the holidays can serve as a constant reminder of significant stressors already present in a relationship. One expert, Cam Melick, a licensed clinical social worker in Idaho, describes what he typically sees during the holidays in his profession: significant social pressure on people.
Between the constant ads that tell people to spend money, along with individuals’ personal financial stress, and time constraints when attempting to schedule holiday plans — these issues can easily turn from harmless conversations into heated arguments that, in some instances, may lead to complete breakdowns.
Although a total break of communication and even a relationship itself may seem drastic, a survey completed in Los Angeles, California, found that divorce filings increase by nearly one-third immediately following the holidays.
However, despite the increased time constraints and financial pressure that can occur during the holidays, there are some tips that experts suggest using to avoid these types of common pitfalls. Some strategies for successfully navigating the holidays include creating a holiday budget in advance, so that spouses do not feel external pressure to spend more and more and stretch their finances to an upsetting level.
Additionally, experts recommend that spouses discuss their expectations for the holidays beforehand and create a plan for what activities each partner wants to participate in, which family members they visit, and which family members they may not be able to visit during this season. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, experts recommend the individuals take a moment to recognize their own personal frustrations, as well as being mindful of their partner’s frustrations.
This way, a couple can assess their own needs, the needs of their partner, and create a strategy to reduce stress and plan for holiday success.