Holidays are important. Especially since we only get a few each year. They can be fabulous times packed with great memories we will cherish forever.
Whether we get to enjoy some family fun over Easter or the summer school break, holidays are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) motivation for working 9 to 5.
But at the end of them, The Spark often sees an increase in demand for counselling and support services. Why?
In modern society holidays highlight relationship issues. It’s that simple.
Relationships, holidays and unrealistic expectations
To start with we often have unrealistic expectations.
We pack everything we want to accomplish in to our time off whether it is a realistic ‘to do’ list or not. Important things are put on hold until time off in the hope of finding time or even just headspace to deal with them.
We do DIY, daytrips, visit family, try to broaden our minds, head into the great outdoors and keep the kids occupied. Basically we compete to see who can be the busiest or do the most with our time off.
On top of all of this we are bombarded with messages and images that suggest everyone is having a great time during Easter/summer/Christmas and so should we.
Is it any wonder that come the end of our time off we are exhausted, disappointed and angry?
Our relationships take a battering as a result. Couples feel the tension, families fight and tempers flare.
Unrealistic expectations do their damage but holidays tend to highlight something more significant: underlying relationship issues that have been left unchecked.
Relationship issues rarely fix themselves
There is often a common thread running through the backgrounds of couples reaching out to us for help. Specifically that they had ‘put off’ having difficult conversations.
Conversations about starting a family, finances or what they wanted from the relationship never took place. Instead many couples simply crossed their fingers and hoped time off work together or a vacation would ‘fix’ their relationship problems somehow.
Many of the really important relationship issues in life are highly emotional. As a result we naturally tend to avoid them.
But they do not go away when we take time off. Strangely we often know this deep down but still find it difficult to start that conversation.
Sometimes a vacation or dedicated time together can fix things in a relationship but underlying problems rarely sort themselves.
Leaving them unchecked can lead to further problems with resentment and bitterness. Ultimately eating away at a relationship that is already under strain.
Take action to address relationship issues
There will be underlying relationship issues for any couple. The key is to avoid putting them on hold.
Instead take time to reflect upon where you and your partner stand on those issues. Naturally there is a reticence in raising the subject for fear of upsetting or even scaring our loved one away. But talking about it honestly and calmly can represent a big step towards a solution.
Only when a couple are communicating on these key issues can they find a way forward.
The alternative option – to leave them to grow and fester – is, in our experience, a far worse option.
Relationship help from The Spark
If you feel like starting that conversation is too difficult on your own, The Spark can help.
And when it comes to planning what to do during the October school week, Easter, summer or Christmas holidays remember that it is ok to leave time unallocated.
The house and garden – much like the Forth Rail Bridge – will always need maintaining no matter how much you do.
By contrast we have precious few holidays each year to do the things we love with the ones we love.