Couples and the post Christmas slump...
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lesley Braithwaite
9th January, 20120 Comments
The Perfect Christmas..??
Christmas can be a difficult time for many of us. At a time when we are supposed to be enjoying time with family and having the perfect Christmas experience, real life can fall rather short of social expectations. Many people are on their own at Christmas and particularly aware of the loss of loved ones at a time of family re-union. Even those of us with family can find it especially stressful. Children's expectations about presents may have casued over spending on tight family budgets. Maybe partners are only now finding out how much they have spent and there is a shock that more has gone from the account than was thought.
Spending time with the family can be stressful in itself, sometimes the busy routines of daily life can mask difficulties between couples and they become much more evident when spending a lot of time together. Resentments about how much work one partner has had to do, pressure of spending time with inlaws, differences in parenting expectations and tolerance may all contribute to a realisation that things are not quite as good as we thought. Being together can sometimes show how alone one or both partner feels.
How can we make things better?
Talking to each other really helps and perhaps even more importantly, listening. It is really important to try to understand what the issues are for your partner - don't make assumptions and try not to become defensive and take things personally. Sometimes the stress is external to the relationship - money or job worries or concerns about other family members, anxiety about health kept secret so as not to cause worry. Even close couples can find they are surprised about what their partner is worried about. If you can talk about these things it is often possible to resolve them together.
But sometimes it seems just too difficult, you can't find a way to hear what each other is saying. Then it might be worth thinking about getting help. Many people are afraid to seek help as it seems like an admission of failure and concerned about what it will mean to contact a counsellor. People who have overcome this anxiety often find it very helpful to have the opportunity to talk through their problems with an independent and skilled person who can help them to understand each other and develop ways of working on their difficulties.
Contact a qualified couple counsellor/therapist and ask for an initial appointment - then see what you think. Try several different counsellors and see who you think suits you best. Ask questions about how they work and what to expect from working with them. No-one will mind and it is important that you find someone with whom you both feel safe and confident so that you can develop the important working relationship that will help you resolve the things that are causing you difficulties.
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