The Holidays, a Rocky Relationship’s Worst Nightmare
For many people, the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, are some of the best times of the year. These events are looked forward to by persons of all ages and often are the main time families get together for fellowship and celebration during the year. Unfortunately, if a relationship is on rocky ground, the stress level often associated with holidays and the sometimes awkward circumstances surrounding the deteriorating relationship makes holidays a time to dread rather than to look forward to.
Consider the couple who are considering divorce due to an extramarital affair that has surfaced and is apparently going to influence the party involved to leave his or her spouse in favor of the new relationship. Already there is tremendous stress related to anger, emotional pain, and a sense, particularly of the party being left behind, of rejection. And now, here comes a holiday when decisions need to be made as to who will celebrate with who. Will the couple try to “get along” for the sake of the family (especially if young or teenage children are involved) until the holiday has passed? What about parents and in-laws? Will the new paramour understand, or will he or she insist on being with the party involved during holiday celebrations? What a mess all of this can create. Relationships on all sides will be dramatically affected no matter what decisions are made. There is no easy way to celebrate in times like this.
In addition to the emotional stress caused by strained or rocky relationships, there is a financial issue to consider. Persons not getting along will usually not want to spend anything extra on each other, so gift buying becomes a problem. Too, if children of any age are involved, each party may want to spend a ridiculous amount on gift-giving for a child (children) to make themselves look good and give the appearance of being “the better parent,” the parent who “loves them the most.” Buying a child’s love can often be a way to “win a child to their side.”Bribing makes a rocky relationship even rockier.
Sometimes it is hoped holiday celebrations will bring back happy memories of better times in the past which will then heal some of the present problems and allow the relationship to improve. While this sometimes does happen, unfortunately, that is not always the case. And, even if the relationship seems to improve during times of celebration if the couple is not working on the root causes of the problematic relationship, any improvement is likely temporary. Sometimes the disappointment of a failed holiday celebration will make matters worse concerning the relationship.
There is no easy way or guarantee when it comes to avoiding potential nightmares surrounding holidays celebrated by a couple or family with a rocky relationship. Hopefully, the adults involved will be mature enough to handle special days with dignity, especially when children are involved. It is always best when someone can put their own needs and feelings aside for a few hours to make sure other’s needs and feelings are honored and respected, especially when being thankful or celebrating an event surrounded by spiritual tradition.