The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
As the air is getting colder and the autumn leaves are falling, a different kind of energy is growing around us. The holidays are approaching. Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are becoming evident all around. In the malls, in the grocery stores, in office buildings and on homes. Soon, Christmas music will begin to fill the air, and Santa will be ready for pictures. Families will come together to celebrate, and joy will abound. Or, will it?
With all of the grandeur, beauty and significance of the holidays, there may also be pressure to get into the holiday spirit. Under the best of circumstances, the gift lists, the family and friends whom you’ll visit, travelling and finances are all parts of the holidays that can add to another kind of stress that many of us may feel. Relationship stress.
What happens at this time of year when your relationships are not going well? Specifically, your marriage? Do you try to keep a smile on your face and just make it through until the holidays are over? Do you and your spouse come to an agreement about how you will deal with the tension between the two of you? Do you say to yourself, “I don’t know how I am going to get through this. I don’t want to disappoint the children, but I’m at my limit, already.”? Do you wonder if help is really available that can make a real difference in your marriage? Is it possible to change the state of your marriage into something so much better?
We all know that about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. In fact, after this “most wonderful time of the year”, the month of January is when most divorce cases are filed. The holidays are over. The kids are back at school. The attorneys are back in their offices. And, the pressure to maintain the status quo in your marriage may not be as strong. For some, the time has come.
Yet, for others, there may still be a chance. A chance to get help with your marriage. A chance to identify where the struggles are and what you and your partner may be able to do about them. Most of the time, this is not about reconciliation, however. It is about reconstruction of your relationship.
We all have the need to feel loved and that we matter, especially in our most important relationships. This season is one that represents a time of coming together, of experiencing the joy of being with family and friends. When that joy is not real, and there is more pain than pleasure, taking the time for self-care is crucial. Being able to reflect on things that are most important to us in our lives will help to guide us in our decisions about the future. Is it worth trying to heal your marriage so that the smile on your face next year at this time is real? Or, is it time to let go?
If you feel that you have done all that you could have done to save and heal your marriage, then it may be time to let it go. If not, isn’t it worth the chance to try to build something so much better?
May you have happiness this holiday season and beyond.
Deborah S. Wilder, Ph.D.