A recent study released by Washington University indicated the divorce rate spikes after couples return from a holiday.

There are a number of reasons this occurs. I would, however, like to assure you all you will not necessarily break-up after coming home from your wonderful holiday.

The reason this conclusion was reached would have been due to many couples already experiencing relationship distress. Often they will go away on a holiday in a bid to reconnect and mend their relationship.  This can sometimes work and sometimes not.

What is it about holidays that can divide the couple, especially a couple experiencing relationship problems?

  • there is considerable stress preparing for a holiday adding pressure
  • the logistics of the trip itself can be challenging
  • chosen destination, couples may not agree on a destination leaving one feeling disregarded
  • if children are going the stress associated travelling with kids escalates a feeling of pressure
  • one person may want to enjoy activities the other is not interested in
  • overspending can add financial stress

When we go on a holiday we can stop, unwind, reassess and take a moment to consider ourself as we often do not get this opportunity when working so hard in such a busy life.

We spend time with our partner when we often do not see them too much with work, like passing ships in the night. Hopefully, we enjoy spending time together however if the other person annoys or bothers us, the red flag appears, and we can question our relationship or bond.

The financial strain of a holiday can also add to the distress the couple are under. If the couple are already under financial strain and then add a holiday into this, it can break the relationship. Financial pressure is one of the main reasons couples separate and throwing holiday spending into this is dangerous. One partner may start to blame the other for not saving or earning enough, not working more or hard enough or over spending. The pressure already exists before we leave the driveway.

The highest peak for separation is two weeks prior to Christmas and two weeks after Christmas, or the summer holidays. This is due to an evaluation of if we really want to spend another holiday with our partner, or make the break and start the coming year fresh.

What then can couples do to protect their relationship from this holiday stress?

  1. Communicate about the relationship before going away. Share your thoughts, feelings and concerns with your partner
  2. Always have a solution instead of simply discussing the problem, this is where most couples fall down. Establish what it is you both want and need and determine if you can achieve that result
  3. Consider Counselling support to accelerate the process
  4. If you both enjoy different types of holidays agree that the odd year he may choose and the even year she can choose; this way it remains balanced
  5. Plan your itinerary together or agree on some individual activities
  6. Set a budget for the trip and ensure both stick to it realistically

Remember it usually takes us a few days to slow down after we leave for our holiday. Sometimes it can take us time to stop and switch off. It is also important to discuss any work-related activities you may need to do when on holiday as at times it is impossible to switch off completely from our work or business. If this is the case, I implore you to set a time, perhaps an hour each day either early or late so it does not infringe on the family or couple time. If our partner continues to check in with work, we often start to feel dismissed or neglected; this is dangerous and disrespectful.

Discuss and agree on a resolution that will work for you both. This can avoid arguments and allows each person to understand not only what the partner wants and needs but what the other person is responsible for doing.

More Blogs from Dr Karen can be read Here

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