When you think of the holidays, what pictures come to your mind? Warm images of a loving couple basking in the glow of a roaring fire and a twinkling tree? Or is it of a couple, staggering, in an angry heated argument trying to grab a cab as they leave their company party?
Movies have formed a perception in our minds that couples are supposed to be happy at Christmas. We think of George and Mary Baily from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” laughing when they hear the bell ring. We think of Clark and Ellen Griswold from “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation,” who nuzzle into one another despite the crazy hijinks of their family.
But let’s get real the stress, and craziness of the holidays almost caused George to jump off a bridge, and Clark to have a nervous breakdown.
So how does the seemingly innocent traditions of the office party, or the get together at in-laws, cause couples to derail? The real concern often focuses on Substance Misuse.
Drinking is the real reason behind irrational behaviors
An anonymous person wisely said “I’ve never seen anyone drink themselves smart, successful or happy. Most end up broke, bitter and alone.” Yet, the expectations that come with the holiday season, are a perfect storm for destroying relationships. Money is tighter, people drink more, and everyone, overall, has very high unrealistic expectations.
So, this season, I say we declare war on DUI’s. No, I don’t mean driving under the influence, which is never a good idea. Besides potentially killing someone, you could receive a large monetary fine, jail, or a lifetime ban on driving. What I mean is saying No to Dating under the Influence. If you are going out to see friends, party with your family, or partake at the office shindig, you really need to have a plan.
Have a plan for such occasions
If your partner has a history of substance misuse, don’t pretend it away. Have an honest discussion about it, in a gentle supportive manner, and plan for it so that it does not ruin your night. One suggestion, maybe for one partner to remain sober, or to have check in’s with one another, to ensure that neither of you is going off base.
If the substance misuse is more likely abuse, then it’s better to avoid public functions that can destroy your relationship, and set your partner up for imminent failure. Use this opportunity to discuss options that can help.
It’s no surprise, that most Couples Therapist see a huge boom in business after the Holidays. Don’t let this be you. Have a happy, safe, and healthy Holiday Season.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Ronnie Littlewood