Holidays are a tense time. I have spent many counseling sessions over the years working with couples on issues relating to preparing for an upcoming holiday or recovering from the aftermath of a disastrous holiday. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about separating after the holidays.

More inspiration about dealing with holiday stress:

Besides all of the preparation that goes into the holiday which we can get stressed out about, there are issues of family dynamics involving in-laws and children.

Whose house are we going to this year?

Who is coming to us?

Although we can often find ways to avoid interaction as a family, holidays almost force us to be together for an extended period of time. It may mean kids being home from school, changes in our routine, etc… For many of us this can be uncomfortable. Sometimes our anticipation of the holiday can create additional stress.

Are you thinking of separating after the holidays?

The holidays can serve as a turning point for a relationship. Unfortunately, we received a few contacts recently from readers whose spouses have decided to leave them after the holidays.

To leave before or during the holiday would be too difficult on the family but once the holiday is over, it is an opportune time to move on, or so they say.

I can only imagine what such a family could be going through at this time.

How can they enjoy their holiday knowing it is the last one they will all share together?

What will their future experiences of this holiday be when they will forever be reminded that this is the last holiday before their spouse or parent left?

Impulsive decisions about relationships are never advisable unless your life is in danger.

Unfortunately, many people give up hope on their relationship. They don’t think there is any way to fix it, even if they have never sought professional help before.

There are people now facing the decision whether or not to leave in order to not lose out on a potential lease and in order to not lose this sought out residence, they’re choosing to leave their marriage rather than lose the apartment.

It’s sad that the possibility of losing the perfect living quarters is more important than losing out on the perfect partner.

What is an impulsive decision? When our brains are under stress, we are not capable of accessing the logic part of our brain so to make a decision out of survival mode, unless you are in physical danger in the relationship, is not a wise choice and has ramifications that will last a lifetime.

Furthermore, many people think that marriages don’t require work to make them successful and are contemplating leaving without attempting to get professional assistance. And even if they have gone to someone and it hasn’t worked, they’re ready to give up.

If you had a life threatening illness and one doctor gave you a death sentence, would you not seek a second opinion? No doubt you’d do anything you could to stay alive.

Why is it that we don’t put the same effort into saving a marriage which not only affects your life, it affects the life of your spouse, children, and their children. Is it because you think it is your spouse’s fault? That he/she will never change?

G-d believes we can change even though we stand before Him pretty much the same as the year before so why can’t we hold the hope for our spouse?

Below is a question submitted by a genuinely confused husband who wants to enjoy all of the holiday season moments with his wife and children but his wife’s anxiety from all the to-do’s overwhelm her to the point that she threatens divorce.

“I don’t understand why the holidays are so stressful for my wife. I enjoy getting together with family and getting gifts for the kids. Maybe it’s just me but she’s panicking and telling me she wants a divorce because she’s tired of doing everything for everybody. Should I take her seriously or chalk it up to holiday stress?” -How can I tell if my wife wants divorce

Our answer: It sounds like your wife is experiencing a lot of anxiety about the holidays. I’m wondering if this is a familiar feeling for her. While I’m sure it’s scary for you to see her react this way and threaten divorce, do your best now to validate her feelings and know that after the holidays are over, it would be important to have a discussion together about the relationship. If she is under stress, work on being the best husband possible and figure out ways that you can help her get through this time. When things calm down you will be able to process the state of your relationship and figure out how to move forward together.

Our challenge to you this holiday season is to put rash decisions like leaving your marriage on hold. Shelve it until after the holidays are over. Let’s talk then. Better yet, talk with us about scheduling our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat so that you have the chance to get real clarity on what’s going on in your marriage and how to communicate and heal yourself around all the challenges that are coming up for you in your relationship so that they don’t continue to happen in the future, regardless of what decision you make about your future. Talk with us today about our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year full of new possibilities for your relationship,

Shlomo Slatkin

P.S. I in no way intent to minimize the pain of your situation or to oversimplify it implying that there is an easy fix. I am saying that such a serious decision should be made with mental clarity, to the best of your ability and preferably, after exploring all possible options.

Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact or