The holidays can be both beneficial and detrimental to a relationship. Over a lifetime, 22 percent of married men and 14 percent of married women have had sex with someone other than their spouse. As Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil points out, circumstances often coalesce around the holidays to produce an environment hostile toward building or maintaining a healthy relationship.
Consider the holiday parties, the added stress, the additional budgetary constraints that come with gift buying, family politics, drinking and eating more than normal. When considering some of the main reasons people have affairs, they can all be found wrapped up in holiday stress.
"One of the main reasons people have affairs is to counteract feelings of stress, separation or loss," explains Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, "and the holidays can bring all these feelings up at once. We are easily stressed out, easily reminded of loved ones that are no longer with us or of family we find it hard to be around." Additionally, the nostalgia and emotionality of the holiday season creates a vulnerability exacerbated by lowered inhibitions brought on by more drinking and eating than normal. This creates the potential "perfect storm" for people seeking solace outside their relationship. Surprise Divorce
The good news, Dr. Bonnie says, is that this is also a time of year to reconnect with family and friends who provide additional support. She advises people do a few things to avoid piling on the stress and risking their relationship:
- Take advantage of any additional support you have around you during this time or year.
- Be judicious about extra eating and drinking, as comfort food plays on stress in a negative way and can cause more sexual cravings.
- Being aware of your limits: don't internalize additional stress or emotions and practice using the best judgment possible instead of just doing enough to get by.
- Practice saying no: especially in this economy more and more people are staying in instead of partying, cutting back on gift-giving and spending time at home with the people who are closest to them. After all, that should be what the season is about, anyway!