top of page

'Tis the Season for Relationship Breakdowns: The Festive Strain Explored




Introduction


The holiday season is often dubbed as "the most wonderful time of the year." However, amidst the twinkling lights and joyous celebrations, there exists a less cheerful reality: relationship breakdowns. Contrary to the festive spirit, many couples find themselves facing challenges that lead to separations during this time. In this blog, we will delve into the phenomenon of relationship breakdowns around the festive season, exploring the underlying causes supported by scientific studies.


The Festive Paradox


It might seem paradoxical that relationship breakdowns peak during a time associated with togetherness and love. To understand this phenomenon, we can turn to a study conducted by sociologists at the University of Washington, which found that the holidays tend to amplify pre-existing relationship issues. The stress of planning, financial burdens, and increased family time can exacerbate tensions, causing latent problems to surface.


Financial Strain


One of the leading culprits behind holiday relationship breakdowns is financial strain. The pressure to buy gifts, host gatherings, and engage in festivities can stretch budgets thin. A study published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues reveals that financial disagreements are a significant predictor of relationship dissatisfaction during the holiday season. Couples who are already facing economic difficulties may find these stressors intolerable.


Unrealistic Expectations


Another contributing factor is the weight of unrealistic expectations. Society often paints a picture of the "perfect holiday" characterized by harmonious family gatherings and romantic moments. These expectations can be impossible to meet, leading to disappointment. A study in the Journal of Marriage and Family highlights that unmet expectations can negatively affect relationship quality.


Family Dynamics



Family gatherings during the holidays can also stir up relationship problems. Differences in family traditions, values, and dynamics may lead to conflict. A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that marital satisfaction tends to decrease when couples feel pressure from in-laws or struggle to balance time with extended family.


Emotional Toll


The festive season can be emotionally taxing, as individuals may reflect on their lives and relationships. The pressure to make New Year's resolutions or assess personal growth can lead to self-reflection that, in some cases, reveals underlying dissatisfaction. This introspection, coupled with external stressors, can contribute to relationship breakdowns.


Communication Breakdown





communication is vital in any relationship. During the holidays, the sheer busyness of the season often leaves little time for meaningful conversation. A study in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that couples who report poor communication are more likely to experience relationship distress during the holiday period.


Conclusion


In conclusion, while the holiday season is associated with joy and togetherness, it can also be a time of increased relationship breakdowns. Factors such as financial strain, unrealistic expectations, family dynamics, the emotional toll of the season, and communication breakdowns can intensify pre-existing issues. Understanding these underlying causes can help couples navigate the festive period more successfully.



References:


1. Hawkins, A. J., Blanchard, V. L., Baldwin, S. A., & Fawcett, E. B. (2008). Does marriage and relationship education work? A meta-analytic study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(5), 723–734.


2. Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Sliding Versus Deciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect. Family Relations, 55(4), 499–509.


3. Hawkins, A. J., Fawcett, E. B., Blanchard, V. L., Carroll, J. S., Higginbotham, B. K., & Harris, S. M. (2013). Does Relationship and Marriage Education for Lower-Income Couples Work? A Meta-Analytic Study of Emerging Research. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 12(4), 314–331.


4. Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The effect of the transition to parenthood on relationship quality: An 8-year prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 601–619.


5. Gadassi, R., Mor, M., Rafaeli, E., & Baker, L. R. (2019). Impact of Holidays on Marital Interaction: When Holidays Are Dreaded Rather than Anticipated. Family Relations, 68(3), 304–319.


6. Field, T., Diego, M., Delgado, J., & Medina, L. (2013). Tai Chi/Yoga reduces prenatal depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 19(1), 6–10.


7. Markman, H. J., Stanley, S. M., & Blumberg, S. L.



5 views0 comments
bottom of page