The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, love, and togetherness. However, for many couples who are struggling in their marriage, it can be challenging. You may be pretending everything is ok in your marriage for your children but children can tell when there’s tension. Here are some ways to navigate this difficult situation and create a positive atmosphere:
1. Have Open and Honest Communication
Your partner probably knows that things between you are not ideal. It’s helpful to have an honest conversation with your partner about how you’re going to navigate the holidays. Are you going to spend the holiday together? Do you need some alone time? How are you going to focus on the children and make sure there is no fighting? Carve out some time to create a safe space where both of you can express concerns, feelings, and desires without fear of judgment or reaction. If you need to enlist the help of a couples’ therapist, that is a good option.
2. Lower Stress This Holiday Season
The pressure around the holidays can be overwhelming. Make sure that you plan events that you’re comfortable with and that don’t increase the stress and conflict. Maybe it isn’t the time to have 30 people over for Christmas or go to 10 Christmas parties. Think about what calms you and your children. Doing a puzzle together or setting up a family movie night are great alternatives.
3. Know Your Priorities
Understanding what makes you happy will help you successfully structure your time during the holidays. Once you know what you need, schedule that into your time. For example, if you need some time to meet a friend for coffee, make sure that you schedule that into your day. Don’t hesitate to put yourself as a priority during this holiday season.
4. Focus on Your Children's Well-being
Shield your children from the stress and tension in your relationship. Make sure that you don’t fight in front of them and that you work together to make parenting decisions. Ensure that your children feel loved, secure, and supported during the holidays. Creating positive experiences for them can contribute to a sense of stability for your children and your marriage.
5. Foster Gratitude and Appreciation
Focusing on gratitude is one of the best tools you can use to minimize stress and conflict. Take time to express gratitude and appreciation for each other. Start a gratitude practice where your family regularly talks about what you appreciate about each other. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help shift the focus from difficulties to the strengths and positive aspects of your marriage.
Navigating the holidays when your marriage is struggling can be tough. It’s a journey that requires effort, patience, and a willingness to work together. While the holidays can intensify existing marital challenges, they also present an opportunity for growth and healing within your relationship. By implementing some realistic strategies, you can lay the groundwork for a more positive and fulfilling future with your partner and children.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.