‘Tis the Season for … Breakups

Dealing with heartbreak when everyone else is merry and bright

The period between Christmas and Thanksgiving is known colloquially on college campuses as the “turkey drop.” It’s a time when students stress about finals, look forward to returning home for the holidays — and break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

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Yep, this and springtime are the two major breakup periods of the year. And for those who have left the college years far behind — you’re not safe either. Something about a new year just up ahead seems to prompt people of all ages and all walks of life to, well, get a jump on it.

Yet couples who want to end their marriages around the holidays may want to take a step back before making any rash decisions, said Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor and founder of the Marriage Restoration Project, based in Pikesville, Maryland.

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“The 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,” he told LifeZette.

Consider setting boundaries for how you will talk to and respond to relatives.

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In addition to financial pressure, family tensions, and travel-related stress, the holidays can also unearth unhappy memories. “Holidays play a big role in a person’s life, so we carry whatever baggage we have in memories and expectations,” Slatkin said. “If we have negative memories and experiences, then part of us can be triggered during that time. If the holidays were a time of anxiety and fights between family members, then that is something that will creep up in the background. If we had good experiences and the way you currently celebrate the holidays doesn’t live up to expectations, that’s also setting yourself up for failure.”

The holiday pressure cooker can put a strain on almost any marriage — even healthy ones. So if you’re feeling a little hopeless about your relationship, you might want to wait until after the holidays, when things settle down.

At the same time, if you’re sure that breaking up is the best decision, there are some tools to help you cope. First, consider setting boundaries for how you will talk to and respond to relatives. You may not want to explain your situation to everyone — but you can set aside private time to speak with those closest to you in a compassionate setting.

Spending time with little kids to lift your spirits is what Audrey Hope, a life coach in Brentwood, California, recommends. “Babies and kids are the best medicine, as they bring joy, innocence, and happiness. They will help you laugh and remember that life is good and love is possible,” Hope told LifeZette.

Related: Divorce With the Kids in Mind

Being in your own space — reading books, taking walks, staying in — will help you to process your breakup a little easier. And for those times when you get lonely, it might be best to skip the reunion with your siblings and their spouses — and instead go serve those in need. Being around others with more significant needs can help you remember how good your life really is.

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