It’s the holiday season and you’re in the middle of a personal relationship crisis. How are you going to make it through the season?
It will be difficult. The holidays are a high stress, high-energy time of year and that’s the last thing you need right now.
Your pain is real. The stress of the season is real. I wish I could snap my fingers and solve it all for you, but let me at least give you three strategies that will help you navigate your way through the season.
(Be sure to read to the end for some extra help.)
Consider calling a cease-fire.
Depending on which stage of the crisis you are currently in, everyday tension may be running high. Your home could be a pretty hostile place right now. But you don’t want to ruin the holiday atmosphere for your children and quite honestly, you could use a break from the arguments as well.
Why not give yourself a little break? Can you and your partner agree to put the infidelity issue aside for while?
Give yourself the gift of not feeling required to make him pay. Give yourself the gift of not rehearsing over and over all the questions you want to ask him next time you see him. Give yourself the gift of mental and emotional rest.
You can always pick the issue back up again when the holidays are over. Chances are, you will be able to address the issue with a different tone and from a slightly different frame of mind because of the rest you allowed yourself.
Mitigate pressure on yourself.
If you had just been in a car accident and suffered physical injuries, you would cut yourself some slack during the holiday season. You wouldn’t feel the need to decorate every inch of your house. You wouldn’t bake every cookie in your recipe file. You wouldn’t host three different parties for all the groups of people in your life.
You would let up a little. You would be mindful that you aren’t up to snuff physically and really shouldn’t be exerting yourself so much.
It’s the same way with being in the midst of affair recovery. You have suffered mental and emotional harm. Though other people may not be able to see the injuries when looking at you, they are just as real. They affect you just as much. Cut yourself some slack. If you don’t feel up to doing your “usual” holiday activities, that’s okay.
Prepare for awkward situations.
If you do feel obligated to go to a family event, party with friends, or work social event, you may be worried that someone will say something that makes you feel really awkward. Depending how many people you’ve told or who has found out about the affair in other ways, you could be feeling a lot of tension about attending.
If you’ve ever watched the movie Four Christmases starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, you know that they thought up a code word they could use if things got awkward while visiting family at Christmas. If one of them said “mistletoe” it was a sign to the other one that it was time to leave.
Now I’m not suggesting you and your spouse come up with code words, but I do suggest that you talk about potential conversations and scenarios that could happen at a get-together. Talk about how you will handle things, what you absolutely won’t have a conversation about, or what your answer will be if someone asks you an awkward question.
You will feel so much better attending the event if you have a game plan. You will feel prepared and be less tense as the event approaches. This is a strategy where are taking control of what you can take control of. It’s empowering yourself.
No matter how much you decide to participate or not participate this season, you can make it through the holidays with your sanity intact. Set yourself up now to make it. Prepare your mind, your environment, and your partner as best you can and then just ride the wave.
Andy and I often speak to our coaching clients about riding the waves of emotion that come with a relationship crisis. If you try to fight and push back against the wave, you will get knocked down–gasping and sputtering for breath. If you can just relax, float on the wave (of emotion, of a season, etc.), it will eventually drop you off on the shore. You will survive the wave and come to a safe place at the end.
Be proactive with your emotional health this season. Take advantage of at least one of these three strategies and we wish you the best!
For additional strategies to help you through the season, download 14 Strategies to Survive the Holidays After a Betrayal right now. This quick guide will help you navigate the highs and lows of the holiday season.