It is a well-recognised fact among Family Law Teams that the period after the traditional summer holidays (usually July and August) sees a steep increase in inbound divorce enquiries. Yes, it can be a bit depressing to think that what should be a fun time has actually become the catalyst for a terminal split but at least those couples who have reached the ultimate breaking point are doing something about it.
Anyway, there are those who are not that far down the track but still find extended holiday periods to be a difficult time. The reality of the 21st century is that many couples don’t always spend that much time together. Often both couples will be working and just passing each other at meal and sleep times. They also often lead reasonably separate social lives.
As we have discussed in earlier blog updates looking at the effects of the Christmas break, a sudden and prolonged period in close proximity can bring existing simmering tensions to the boil. Is there a way to manage this?
The heat, the heat… the damned heat!
After the initial “Wow! Isn’t it nice to get some heat?” reaction the actual reality of having to deal with 43 degrees for a fortnight starts to sink in! Heat can disrupt sleep patterns and make people more likely to argue and be irritable. As you have probably arrived feeling tired anyway, the effects can be exacerbated.
Quite a number of people don’t actually like hot climates but go with the flow because of the social convention that a summer holidays should be spent in locations hotter than your usual place of residence. It is worth being honest about your true feelings on the matter at the start of the planning stage rather than resenting every day you are in a villa in the heat.
Or maybe it’s not the heat…
Of course, a similar approach to ‘resisting at planning stage’ described above, should be used if your partner insists on dragging you away to a campsite on the Isle of Man or a caravan on the Welsh Coast, whilst you are dreaming of a week away in Corfu! However, don’t spend what you can’t afford. It’s a bit like Christmas in that respect. You will have to pick up the bill afterwards and this will just add to the pressure/resentments on and in your relationship.
Time alone is important
For many people, day-to-day life has a fair amount of time being alone or away from family members. Whether this is on the daily commute, after the kids have gone to school or working from home, we often have a lot less interaction with family members than we realise.
The summer holidays change all of that. Suddenly you can find yourself in close proximity to your partner and children for pretty much 24/7 over a two-week period. Yes, of course it’s great to spend time together, have some fun and break the usual work/eat/sleep pattern but it can also be intrusive and, at times, overwhelming.
If you are able, get yourself out for a walk early in the morning or go for a solo-siesta post lunch. You can be completely honest about your need to get some time away from everyone else. If you make it clear you love being together as well then, most people will understand and not resent it. It also helps if you offer to facilitate the needs of your partner so they can have an afternoon away or even a complete day free where you take the kids elsewhere. This solo time can change a family holiday dynamic entirely.
Sleep and alcohol
Strangely enough, holidays are often not a particularly restful time. You are on childcare duties all the time, you tend to go to bed later and often wake up early because it gets warm quickly. The effects of a few more glasses of wine or beer can also disrupt sleep patterns. Some holiday resorts can be really noisy. Take ear-plugs to block the noise and use meditation programmes you can find online to prepare for sleep.
Be nice to yourself. Go to bed in the afternoon for a while if you can. Get a few early nights, you don’t have to live each day like it’s 24 hours of shore-leave! If you are really tired discuss it with your partner and work out a schedule where both you and them can get some sleep-ins or time out.
Talk about things
If someone is annoying you, talk to them about it. Keeping silent will just wind you up even further. If you do decide to talk to them do it in a constructive way and have some self-awareness about your own habits that may be annoying other people. Talking about things can stop many situations reaching breaking point and also helps clear the air and avoiding those holiday atmospheres that many people encounter.
These are just a few suggestions for managing the summer holidays. If you don’t find it at all stressful then that’s excellent. It should be a memorable and fun time.
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