Life Relationships Family holidays can lead to divorce: research

Family holidays can lead to divorce: research

Be warned. Photo: Warner Bros.
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If you are planning a family Christmas holiday to save your marriage then it’s probably too late.

In Australia, separation peaks just after Christmas time and often it’s the summer getaway that has pushed a couple to breaking point, says relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein.

“If you are using a vacation to mend a relationship more so than often the relationship is already in the red zone,” Dr Goldstein said.

Sociologists from the University of Washington claim they have now found the first quantitative evidence to support this seasonal pattern of divorce.

After analysing divorce filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015, they found divorce peaked in March and August – directly following winter and summer holidays.

The stress of Christmas and going on holiday will intensify any cracks already in the marriage, says Dr Goldstein.

There’s the stress of packing, organising what happens to the kids and the family pet, plus the added financial pressures.

“Your holidays are not always easy, when you put more stress on a situation that’s already volatile it might just crack,” said Dr Goldstein.

This is because couples tend to bottle everything in during the year and by the time January comes around they just “snap”.

Don’t just hang in there, get help now, advises Dr Goldstein.

“It’s OK for couples not to cope and it’s OK for them to get help, it doesn’t mean that everything is over but you are better off to do it earlier rather than later because it’s going to be less effective later and it’s going to be harder to get things back than if you address it now.”

If you are looking at mending a relationship by going away, then it has to be the right type of holiday – one that involves lots of quiet time to reconnect and chill together.

Having an effective conversation about your marriage is also a must, says psychologist Dr Karen Phillip.

She says learning the right language to use with each other to avoid hostility is key.

“Even changing one word like ‘but’ to ‘and’ can have such a profound effect on the outcome of the conversation.

“And there’s lots and lots of those little things that make such a difference within the communication of two people if they’re really struggling to get their relationship back on track.”