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  • Writer's pictureEleni Paris

HOW TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS WHEN YOU CAN’T WRAP YOUR MARRIAGE PROBLEMS UP WITH A BOW





Colleen had to sit down and take deep breaths. "I can't believe it. No…..this can't be happening! He told me he stopped doing this months ago." 


Her thoughts were racing. She was grasping for possible mistakes she noticed on their financial statements.


She felt faint, and fear took such a stronghold of her that she wondered if she was transported right back to their first marital crisis from 5 years ago. 


"Christmas is in one week. How am I going to confront him about his gambling addiction again? How can we ignore this for a whole week and enjoy our kids and family? Can we survive the holidays after this?" 



THIS IS EXTREMELY PRIVATE, HARD, AND ALL TOO COMMON


As we all know, life can throw us hard balls during the most unpredictable times, and no one is immune to them. 


But when we enter a season that involves celebrations, festivities, presents, and an expectation of joyous moments, experiencing a marital crisis involves multi-layered feelings, coping strategies, and solutions that require quick and thoughtful solutions. 


AS NEW MARRIAGE PROBLEMS ARISE, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY OR DO, SOMETIMES THEY CAN'T BE WRAPPED UP WITH A BOW. 


SO NOW WHAT? 


I'd like to offer some ways you can approach and deal with all before you, including the reality of your relationship crisis AND partaking in the holiday season. 



RAMP UP SELF-CARE 


As I often say…this is CRITICAL to your well-being as you navigate this unique challenge. Scan all the areas of your life you could access to replenish your soul. 


Prioritize emotional support however you can at this time. Whether you call a friend or squeeze in an extra therapy session (if you're in therapy), or perhaps schedule that first session. 


Increase your physical activity, and if you have to excuse yourself from large gatherings to incorporate some movement, stretching, walking, etc…go! 


Mentally, you may need to write your thoughts in letter form, knowing you cannot address this situation right now. 


Spiritually….can you rely upon your faith beliefs and traditions for added support and healing? If so, please avail yourself of spiritual nourishment and guidance. 



TRUST THE PROCESS


I know you do not want to be here. You are feeling anger, sadness, and despair; this should NOT be happening now. I get that and can understand that sentiment. 


But it's here, and if you can trust the process, although the pain is piercing and the timing is extremely disappointing, this part of your journey will bring about change and well-deserved growth. If you can trust the process and hold onto that HOPE for what lies ahead. 



LET GO OF TRYING TO RUSH IT 


SLOW DOWN. Something is happening, bringing you and your relationship to a screeching halt. Instead of rushing through the days to begin dealing with the issues, allow some mindfulness and do whatever you can to stay present. 


This will definitely feel hard, as others' joy and their desire to have you partake in it, will feel like the poles of two magnets repelling each other. It will take strength you did not know you had, but perhaps you also know how to do this because you've had to do it before. 



DO YOUR BEST TO COMPARTMENTALIZE


This is easier said than done, but if you can tap into the other areas of joy and honor that they still exist. Your mind may be racing to grasp what is happening in your marriage, but when your kids are still joyfully ripping open the gifts, they still desire your attention. 


Your heart may be broken, and as this is such a private matter, you will still need to find a way to rejoice in other family members' good news. 


You may lose your appetite and still need to make room for your mom's amazing holiday dish. 



EMBRACE THE BOTH/AND


You can be grateful AND still be sad, angry, resentful, scared, and unsure. Give yourself permission to feel heartbroken about your relationship AND joyful to see your favorite family members and friends. 


It sounds cliche, but these emotions can exist simultaneously (and thankfully, they do).



ALLOW ROOM FOR HELPFUL REFRAMES


Can you tell yourself the message that "Things don't feel okay right now, but we're going to be okay"? 


Or, "We're not in a good place today, but I think we can get to the other side of this"? 


Maybe…”I don't know what will happen, but I'm blessed with ____." 



GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE


This is not easy..in fact, this is very, very hard…and you're supposed to be celebrating. 


You may feel stuck in knowing how to manage this realization, this crisis, this new challenge. 


It may feel highly challenging to implement more self-care. 


You know you need to slow down to take in the holiday moments, but at the same time, you're wishing to speed through it all to get on the other side of this.


Maybe you'd rather go hide somewhere instead of dealing with it all by compartmentalizing.

.

You're supposed to feel joy, yet you are consumed with anger, fear, and sadness.


And you may have no positive reframes for this disheartening moment. 


If you cannot muster up the strength or ability to do any of the above suggestions, I hope you will at least give yourself some grace


You are experiencing real, raw emotions and are in a relationship crisis during the holidays….be good to yourself. Give yourself some grace and be okay with knowing that you are doing the best you can with what you have at this very moment. 


And please reach out to a loved one, a trusted source, a therapist, or anyone who can give you that much-needed support. 









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