The holidays are typically known for bringing on stress in relationships. It’s a cliché and a popular narrative to talk about the woes of family gatherings. This comes up in my work with couples, and it’s an interesting conversation. For couples that are on the mend, the holidays can actually be a welcome change from previous years as they see their hard work of getting closer paying off. For those just starting the therapy process, it can be a bit discouraging because the holidays stress a fragile bond that is just beginning to deepen again.
If you’re coming off of a busy season and things didn’t go so well, have heart. Relationships shouldn’t be judged by these sometimes very difficult and demanding times. If you think of a relationship like a boat, if the boat is not strong, it is going to have a harder time travelling through difficult waters, so you may experience above average strain. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t navigate the day-to-day. What is important to keep in mind is that if the issues that are cropping up during these more stressful events are not addressed, then over time, there is the real possibility of the relationship capsizing. As we are all aware, unaddressed needs in relationships come out and wreak havoc during seemingly simple disagreements.
The vast majority of my clients enter therapy when things cannot be resolved without old hurts cropping up and causing inordinate amounts of pain and anguish. With some foresight, it is advisable to come to couples therapy before things get too engrained. Couples therapy can be a safe place to experience what it is like to heal from old wounds and begin to feel more grounded and emotionally intimate. Old patterns are addressed and acknowledged and new ones are introduced that combat the negative cycle that hurts trust and the partnership that we all value with our loved ones.