Heal Your Xmas Holiday Break-up!
Heal Your Xmas Holiday Break-up!
Here's some of my advice on how to pick up the pieces of your break-up
Are you one of the seasonal casualties who found your relationship crumbling over Christmas and New Year? Unfortunately the months of January and February see more break-ups than at any time of the year. Jane, 45, a teacher and mother of two is one such casualty. She was in a right state when her husband Gerald, 47, threatened to separate from her after terrible rows over money. With a few emergency strategies under her belt she’s managed to convince him to talk things through and at this time it looks like their relationship will survive.
However many couples don't survive because any fragile areas they’ve managed to contain over the year become massive cracks with the stress of Christmas and the bills hitting the mat in January. If you'd like to rescue your relationship from a permanent break-up try these seven strategies immediately:
1/ Hold Your Hands Up!
Now is the time to take a long hard look at your own behaviour in the build-up to the break-up. What can you claim responsibility for? If you told me there's nothing you’re responsible for then I know you're in denial! That's because although sometimes one partner is very badly behaved, the other partner still plays some part in enabling that bad behaviour. The sooner you tease out the things you'd like to apologise for and learn to do better, the nearer you are to getting back together.
2/ Resist Finger Pointing!
Equally if your partner genuinely wants to try and sort things out it's not the time to finger point at them. One solution is to volunteer what you'd like to do better and what you've learned from the break-up. Then ask what they've learnt and what they feel went wrong. By asking them open-ended questions without accusing them of doing certain things you’re more likely to generate some warmth between you.
3/ Find The Good Stuff!
During any discussion remind your partner of the good things you've shared. You might as well give up the ghost if you simply bang on about everything that's gone wrong. When both of you are feeling hurt and angry you have to find a bit of “sunshine”. A successful technique is to take along your photo album when you've agreed to meet up. Say to your partner, "before we start discussing what's happened let's take a look at this." Relationship research shows this technique may bridge even the most angry feelings.
4/ Some Breathing Space May Help!
Your partner may have packed their bags and things seem bleak but all may not be lost. Sometimes a brief separation gives enough breathing space for couples to think through what needs sorting out. Be as positive as possible about the time spent apart. Let them know you miss them and remind them you hope to work things out. Here's the most important point - tell them of any solution you've thought of for any of your problems. By demonstrating solutions can be found when things feel insurmountable, you have more chance of healing the break-up.
5/ Avoid Angry Confrontation!
You may want to scream at your partner because, say, you shouldered the responsibility for the family Christmas, they overspent on the credit cards, and drank too much while relaxing with their favourite brother. But all they’ll see is a screaming shrew and won't hear a word you're saying. Accept that angry confrontation will get you nowhere. There's nothing wrong with anger and you should confront the issues behind your anger. But to get anywhere you need to be calmer or at least less aggressive. Before you start any conversation burn off any excess energy. If you enjoy sport then do some or go for a brisk walk. After that you'll be less likely to blow your top when discussing issues.
6/ Use The Egg-Timer Technique!
Both of you may want to avoid a break-up but you’re still finding it hard to communicate. This is often due to interrupting each other as you try to make a point. You may not even realise you’re doing it since couples get into such bad communication habits, particularly talking over each other. One solution is to agree an amount of time that each of you has to speak uninterrupted. You might begin with two minutes each, timed by an egg timer, then building to five minutes each. While one person is speaking, and egg timer’s ticking, the other must remain silent and listen. Then swap over and the other partner has their say.
7/ We’re Finally Getting Somewhere!
Definitely flag up each time you to manage to discuss any aspect of your break-up without things descending into a stony silence or an argument. The more you can say, "great stuff, we managed to clarify that issue without raising our voices," the more likely you'll start healing your differences. And the more you genuinely tell them you appreciate their efforts when they demonstrate that they care about trying to save your relationship, the more goodwill you'll generate between you.
Finally, if it looks like your break-up will be permanent then try and hold your head high and manage it without undignified rows and bad behaviour. A tall order but one that’s worth aspiring to!
Published in The Express Newspaper