The holidays are a time for family, friends, and love. It shouldn’t be the season for pain. But for some couples, they keep it together only to divorce after the holidays and in the New Year. In fact, a common time to divorce is right after the holidays.
Here are the three tips for couples to consider before divorcing after the holidays:
- Nurture your friendship. One of the top reasons for divorce is that people become emotionally and physically distant and drift apart. Between balancing work, raising children, technology distractions and daily life craziness, it’s tough to feel connected to your partner. But it makes a difference. So many of my clients report that when they spend quality time with each other, things are overall improved and they can weather the tough times better.
TIP: Connect every day. You have to intentionally make it a priority to connect every day, whether it’s 20-second hugs, passionate kisses, or 15-minute conversations. Bring back the fun and play in your relationship!
- Maintain your identity. It’s also easy to lose yourself in your marriage. Maybe you stopped doing the things that once brought you joy, or put your needs aside for your partner and family. The thing is, if you’re not happy, it’s easier to blame the marriage. Doing your own thing is a good thing. Some degree of separateness from your partner can maintain long-term passion. It also adds mystery, which is important for desire. When you were dating, you didn’t know what your partner was up to every day. One of my clients told me that when his wife went out with her girlfriends, he would think about how great she looked and that it would ignite his passion for days—something so simple like his wife going out with her girlfriends!
TIP: If you’ve lost sight of who you are, go back to the basics. What were the things you used to do? What brought you pleasure and joy? Some of my clients really struggle maintaining their individual identities—so make a list, and write down your needs and see how many of them have been fulfilled.
- Renegotiate your marriage. People buy into what they think their marriage “should” look like. First comes marriage, then a house, then a baby, dog, etc. This doesn’t work for everyone. When you first married, you had an expectation of what your life together would be like. If those expectations changed, or something isn’t working, it’s ok to renegotiate! Couples who have high expectations are actually happier—but they both work toward making their expectations happen in mutually respectable ways.
TIP: Depending on how you think your marriage is doing, you can meet monthly but in general you can meet once or twice a year. I recommend to my couples that they keep their anniversary as a happy time, and then spend their half-anniversary talking about their relationship. Discuss what’s working, what isn’t, what’s been missing, new goals or vision for marriage, put new dreams on the table, what needs to be done, etc.
If you need help with any of the above, see an experienced marriage counselor. Find one who is trained in evidence-based methods to teach you the tools you need to come back from the brink of divorce. Keep the holiday season for what it is meant to be—a time of joy, laughter, and love.