It may be time to face relationship reality.

For many of us, the holidays are a joyous and relaxing time filled with hours of celebrating and reminiscing.

(Unless you are hosting everyone, then there is absolutely no relaxing until January!)

Spending time with family and close friends should be relatively stress free, but this isn’t always the case. What if you and your spouse were hanging by a thread before the holidays? In such a situation, the expectations of your remaining family members (who probably aren’t aware of anything yet) will likely exacerbate the division, rather than make it better.

So let’s say you and your spouse were having serious problems in 2017. Maybe one or both of you were attending counseling. Maybe you’re still under the same roof but in different bedrooms. It’s now January and the holidays are history. What should you do?

It’s time to face relationship reality.

So things were terrible last year, but how do you feel today? Was the holiday stretch a prolonged ordeal or did it offer a glimmer of hope? Was the holiday decorating, shopping and cooking fun, or were those activities just another round of torture? Over the years I have worked with many couples. In my experience, the holidays often provide the answer to the question, “Is my relationship over?”

Think about what you just lived through — was it a good feeling sitting on the couch with everyone, serving food and drinks and swapping stories? Did you feel any warmth toward the occasion and (most importantly) toward your significant other? Will you miss those gatherings with the current cast of characters? If so, ask your partner if he/she felt it too. There is nothing like sharing a moment to get two people focused on what is possible.

However, there is also a chance that your feelings are not shared. There is no longer room in the other’s heart for reconciliation. If this is where you are, I can make two promises to you:

1. You are definitely not alone, and
2. You need to begin the new year with your head on straight and looking ahead.

Don’t beat yourself up

There’s no sense in beating yourself up at this point. If you know that it’s time to face reality and take the necessary steps to protect yourself, first, have the talk. Sit down with your partner when things are quiet, where there won’t be anything else competing for attention, and speak from the heart. If you are willing to find a way forward with your partner, say so in the strongest possible way. In my experience, this meeting of the hearts can culminate with a joint agreement to save the relationship. If you find that you cannot stay in the relationship, be honest and tell your partner that.  Don’t, however, make this a confessional. While it might make you feel better to confess all, you may find that it doesn’t make your partner feel better to hear about your misdeeds. Worse, you may find your words repeated in a courtroom later.

Divorce is always gut-wrenching, but by working together you both can make it much easier, less contentious and expensive, and shorten the entire process. If any of this describes where you are today, please call my office. I have helped couples for many years in this capacity, and understand what both parties need to move on.

Don’t forget — you are not alone, and you can begin the New Year looking ahead.