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We expect to celebrate, spread good will and give gifts and joy to others, but the Christmas season often leads us to feeling stress rather than cheer.
Relationship Expert Amanda Harrigan said the Christmas season can cause tension, conflict, the re-emergence of old arguments and sometimes a relationship breakdown.
“Christmas can be a high pressure, high stress time of the year, both emotionally and economically, and that takes its toll on couples,” said Ms Harrigan.
“If a relationship is already suffering from poor communication or lack of time for each other, this will be heightened during a time when we are busy organising parties, juggling family get togethers and buying presents,” she said.
“The stress of the Christmas period can often cause couples to forget all the positive aspects of their relationship.”
“People are also out enjoying the social festivities and may decide they just don’t want to deal with the additional stress of their relationship on top of everything else.”
“It may just take an argument about spending time with the family, or it may be the unrealistic expectations, perfectionism and idealism some people have around Christmas that can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
“By keeping a sense of perspective, taking time out for each other, and being willing to compromise, your relationship needn’t be a casualty of the season.”
Ms Harrigan said people experiencing added pressure of relationship challenges this Christmas season could benefit from the following:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for space and time for yourself. You will be giving out significant energy will need time to recoup. Notice when you’re feeling stress and use this as an indicator that you need to remove yourself from the stressful situation to recharge.
- Take time to recognise where there are problems between you and your partner and work at managing them. Be open and honest and talk to each other about what you are feeling. Try to be aware of what each other’s perspectives during this time.
- Talk about how you are going to manage the family side of the equation. Know that families bring out the best and the worst. Remember that it is important for each of you to spend time with your families during this time, so balance is the key.
- Take some time to discuss your expectations around gift giving so that you are both on the same page. Why not agree on a dollar amount that you are both comfortable with spending on each other’s presents?
- If you are feeling undecided about the direction of your relationship wait until the festivities have died down. Break ups are traumatic emotionally and mentally and it’s best to give yourself time think without the added pressure of Christmas and families as well.
“Even something as simple as planning time for just the two of you, even for short periods can support your relationship over the Christmas period,” said Ms Harrigan.
A UK study by Seddons of 3,000 people revealed that December is the most stressful month for couples. One in five considers splitting during this time. The study also revealed that more arguments happen during the festive month than at any other time of the year.
According to another study of more than 10,000 Facebook updates, the peak time for break-ups are the weeks leading up to Christmas and spring break. The study also concluded that couples are twice as likely to break up over the holiday period.
Joe Whitcomb, CEO and Founder of The Relationship Society said it is important for people to re-evaluate what is important to them in their relationships and look at the bigger picture after the stressful period has died down.
“By getting some perspective and taking time out for each other, you can then see whether it was the time of the year which led to difficulties or if the relationship was already under strain for other, more significant reasons,” said Mr Whitcomb.
“If your relationship issues are still there in the New Year, it is wise to consult a relationship coach or counsellor before making any long-term decisions.”
“By working on the problems between you, the relationship stands the best possible chance of being saved before any steps are taken to separate or divorce.”
For details on how to work through relationship challenges, and to learn about Relationship Coaching visit the Emotive Health website at www.emotivehealth.com.au
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- Amanda Harrigan
- Relationship & Infidelity Recovery Coach
- Emotive Health
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