Is Your Post-Holiday Relationship on the Rocks?
Holidays are a time for celebration; a lesser known fact is more relationships break up in January than at any other time of the year. Why? Experts believe that holiday stress, coupled with avoiding problems before special life events including major performances may explain this phenomenon. Still, breaking up isn’t inevitable. Learn how to avoid this trap, or at least ease the pain, by following these steps.
- The biggest reason for January breakups is that your potential ex-partner has been thinking about leaving you since October due to unresolved problems. Still, most couples don’t want to ruin a holiday by breaking up prior to family rituals, airline flights to see relatives, or gift-giving. So they wait until the holidays are over and break up in January versus doing it right before Valentine’s Day.
- Stressful holidays that go unchecked may also bring out issues that cause people to rethink their commitments. Instead of joy and love, your partner may be miserable most of the time or engage in unhealthy habits like substance abuse. These behaviors can really stand out during the holidays and make you wonder if this is the person with whom you want to spend your life.
- The final reason for January breakups is wanting to make a fresh start. It’s a new year and factors like incompatibility, lack of intimacy, or separate lives may nudge one member of the couple to make a resolution to break up in search of a more fulfilling connection. This may be especially important if you’re involved with a non-performer who doesn’t understand your devotion to the arts. The good news is that 60% of New Year’s resolutions fail because change is not an on-off switch. You can also use the same strategies that help people change to improve your relationship if both you and your partner are willing to openly discuss the reasons for the split.
The key to rebuilding a broken relationship is communication. Couples counselors often suggest setting aside10-15 minutes a week for “active listening” about present events (past events are off limits), where you use the phrase “I feel __ when you do __” without assigning blame, while your partner paraphrases your remarks until you feel heard. Then it’s the other person’s turn. Arranging a weekly “date night” can also help reignite the spark by sharing fun activities from the past, as long as you avoid talking about serious topics. Of course, couple’s therapy is also an option, as long as you pick the right psychotherapist. For example, a major reason for breaking up is undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, with its underlying problems associated with lack of insight, impulsive behavior, and problems with physical intimacy. In this case, only a specialist will do.
In summary, don’t give up but be realistic about your chances of making it together. A little soul-searching on both sides is a good thing.