The holiday season – that stretch of time from Thanksgiving through Christmas and the New Year – is often seen as a time for family and togetherness. In many cases, this is true! We may have more time off work, family in town for a visit, traditions and gatherings that help us connect with our loved ones, and so on…
But there can also be a downside if you aren’t ready for it. With all the hullaballoo – all of that focus on events and gifts and meals and guests – you can lose sight of connecting with your spouse, and end up neglecting your marriage in one of the most “connected” times of year.
The simple fact that divorce rates spike in the month of January tells us a great deal about how couples fare during the holidays – and it isn’t too tough to imagine the kinds of situations that lead marriages to ruin.
First, this time of year can put a ton of financial pressure on households of all kinds. Gifts, holiday travel, time away from work, and even the increased costs of transportation and home heating in the colder months can all stack up – and arguments about money remain one of the most common reasons couples split up. Worrying about money can also mean more stress in a general way, which may lead to more arguments, more conflict, and pushing further apart.
Money isn’t the only problem couples face this time of year though… Time, especially time together, is also a hot commodity during the holidays. We mention time and time again how important spending time together as a couple is for the health of your relationship, and when holiday plans, school vacations, and all of the holiday logistics are taking up your time and energy, it’s easy to skip date nights…
It’s easy to get so focused on the unique needs of the season, you forget about the ongoing effort needed to keep your marriage its strongest!
There’s even some trouble during the holiday season because of proposed New Year’s resolutions. Couples tell themselves that they’ll start working on the relationship after the first of the year, that next year will be different, that it’s time to start communicating and making time for each other – only to keep putting it off when the new year rolls around. Just like other resolutions, most of us don’t stick with them because we set our sights on some future date – instead of working on our goals right now.
Now, this information doesn’t have to cast a shadow across your holiday season. Instead, it should serve as a reminder to keep your marriage a priority no matter what other holiday plans you have in store. Keep dating. Keep making time for each other. Check in periodically to make sure each other isn’t stressing out or holding back an issue. This is a good practice throughout the year, but could be a “life saver” during the busy and often frantic holiday season.
Knowing the risks before they happen is one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary trouble, so keep these things in mind over the next month or two. If you’re making an active effort to stay connected, to spend quality time together away from distractions, and – because money is so often an issue – sticking to a holiday budget, you won’t become part of the January spike in divorce statistics this year, or any of the years to come!
No matter what your holiday schedule looks like, make room to strengthen your marriage throughout the season.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com