Can The Holidays Save My Marriage?

Aerial image of holiday family dinner outdoors. Can the Holidays Save my Marriage

These five ideas could give you the inspiration you need to save your marriage this holiday season.

Did you know that in most of the English-speaking countries that January is the most popular month to file for divorce? I see the January effect every year in my practice.

And when I ask my January and February clients why they (or their soon-to-be-ex) decided to file for divorce in January they usually say they wanted to give their family one last holiday season together.

On the one hand, this is a lovely gift for them to give their family. And on the other, I wonder if it’s possible to look at the holiday season as a time to ask “How can I use the holidays to save my marriage?”

The only way I can begin to answer this question here is to look at the top 5 reasons couples divorce and offer suggestions for how the holidays offer unique opportunities to begin addressing each of them.

How Can The Holidays Save My Marriage From …

  1. A Lack Of Commitment? Marriage takes work – a lot of work. (And so do the holidays.) But what if you sat your spouse down and explained that the only gift you wanted was for you both to get serious about working on your marriage. It would be a gift that pays incredible dividends because you’ll either be on the path to making your marriage work or you’ll learn beyond a shadow of a doubt that it never will.
  2. Too Much Arguing? Most couples can reign in the arguing over the holidays because there are so many events they’re attending with friends and family. They put on their public faces and no one is the wiser. You can use this holiday skill to your advantage by using those same techniques in private too. Just imagine how much easier it would be to save your marriage if you could have more peaceful discussions to solve your marital challenges!
  3. Selfishness And Lack Of Communication? Most people view the holidays as a time for gratitude, enjoying their family and celebration. It’s easy to appreciate others during this time of the year. By you and your spouse choosing to turn toward each other to explore how to communicate appreciation and care toward each other year-round instead of just at the holidays could be exactly the answer you’re looking for to salvage your union.
  4. Infidelity? This time of year is all about friends and families coming together to enjoy each other’s company by putting grievances aside and wishing each other well. Overcoming betrayal is a difficult path, but one that many couples successfully tread if they’re both willing to start by putting aside their grievances and honestly communicate about what went wrong so they can get to work fixing their marriage.
  5. Having Married Too Young? If this is your situation and you’ve grown apart over the years, the holidays are your chance to remember what things were. Sometimes your memories of the happier and more idealistic days are exactly the inspiration you both need to commit to doing whatever you can to save your marriage.

Granted, there’s no way you’ll ever look back at the holidays and say “They saved my marriage.”

But, the holidays are a time of hope. And if you can expand the hope you have for the season to hope for your marriage and really give it all you’ve got, you’ll be able to say with confidence, “I have given my all to save my marriage.” Then, no matter how things turn out, you’ll be able to look yourself (and your kids) in the eye and be at peace knowing you’ve done your best to salvage your marriage.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are wondering, “Can I save my marriage?” You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more help with answering your question – Can I save my marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.


Can I Save My Marriage With Gratitude?

Woman outside with eyes closed and arms raised wondering "Can I save my marriage with gratitude?".

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. ~Wayne Dyer

According to, gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favors. Gratitude also been defined as “an estimate of gain coupled with the judgment that someone else is responsible for that gain” by Robert C. Solomon in his book The Passions.

Now if your marriage isn’t exactly blissful and you’re wondering if you can or even want to save it, feeling thankful for it isn’t an easy thing to do. BUT it may be exactly what you need to do.

According to Robert Emmons, Ph.D, gratitude has some serious, science-proven benefits that will change the way you look at the world (which, btw, includes your marriage). In one of his studies, participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to make progress toward important personal goal.

Yes, “I want to save my marriage” is definitely an important personal goal that could be more easily gained by practicing gratitude.

This doesn’t mean that you need to feel grateful for every argument you have with your spouse. (Although you could be grateful for the learning opportunity the argument gives you, but that’s a topic for another time.)

It does mean being grateful for other things. But to do that you have to step back from the immediate emotions of anger and hurt and disappointment and whatever other unpleasant emotion you’re bathed in.

And how do you do that? By choosing to become curious about what triggered the latest situation and/or becoming empathetic to both you and your spouse.

This idea isn’t the easiest for me to put into words. But luckily there’s an amazing sculpture by Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Milov that beautifully illustrates the love that still exists between a couple even in the midst of argument and hurt.

Since the first time I viewed this sculpture, I think of it when my husband and I have a blowout. It inspires me to become curious and empathetic despite how much I just want to turn my back, walk away, and wonder privately if I can or even want to save my marriage or not.

Once I move past the immediate pain, I can start (slowly) becoming grateful. I’ll usually start with what my husband and I have created together – our home including everyone and everything we share it with.

And then, as my emotions shift, I start becoming more resourceful. I’ll ask for what I want instead of expect or demand it. I’ll encourage him to do the same. I’ll surf the web for helpful ideas and implement them. I’ll also kindly challenge him to do the same.

As I learn to live more in gratitude instead of reaction, my marriage is changing – for the better. The age-old wisdom that Wayne Dyer so eloquently stated “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” is absolutely true and is the cornerstone for me knowing that I can and continue to do my part to save my marriage through gratefulness.

Look, I get that you’re skeptical about this. I was too when I first heard the concept that gratitude can change your relationship. And I need to let you know that gratitude won’t help everyone save their marriage. It’s not a panacea.

Some marriages can’t be fixed.

If your spouse is abusive to either you or your children, if your spouse is an addict who isn’t getting treatment, or your marriage is an abysmal example for your children, then I want you to stop reading right now and call an attorney. You can’t fix that stuff with gratitude. You and your family will have a better shot at a good life if you end the marriage now and divorce.

But for the rest of us (and, yes, I do still include me here) who have either fleeting wonders or persistent agony about answering the question “Can I save my marriage?”, then gratitude could indeed be the answer you’re looking for. And if it’s not THE answer, it will be a terrific first step to take.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering if they can or even want to save their marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Still wondering “Can I save my marriage?” You’ll find more tips in Unhappy Marriage?


I Stopped Sleeping With My Husband To Save My Marriage

Happy couples make their own rules!

The idea that “opposites attract” is cute in the beginning of relationships, but once you’re married or together long-term, those differences soon drive you mad.

My husband and I are certainly a case of opposites attract — especially when it comes to sleeping. He’s a night owl, who loves to steal the covers and roll all over the bed, without regard for whom he’s rolling over. I’m an early bird, who loves to sleep in a neat bed with tight sheets in a dark, quiet room.

When we first moved in together, he installed a ceiling-mounted TV stand in our bedroom. This TV stand seemed a bit extreme to me, but I laughed it off because I loved him AND I thought he’ll only want to watch a movie in bed once in a while.  

Years later, I wasn’t laughing so much. It turns out he had a difficult time falling asleep without watching TV. So we would watch until he fell asleep and then I would turn it off. That’s when I could finally get some sleep. I just slept in a little later than I did before he moved in and later than I preferred.

I thought we had things all worked out. And, we did … until life started happening. Each time we moved or one of us changed jobs it seemed like our whole sleeping arrangement called for minor readjustments, as well. Some of the tweaks we made over time included an eye mask for me and a tablet with ear buds for him.

We managed to continue changing things up to accommodate both of us, for several years. But, this last move just about broke us. I don’t just mean that we were arguing about our sleeping differences. I mean that we were both seriously wondering if we’d be better off divorced!

The only things holding us together were a (distant) memory of loving each other and a determination to make it work, because that’s what married people do. Right?

Every once in a while I couldn’t take the arguments and I would go sleep in the guest room. I got a good night’s sleep, but it infuriated my husband because we were in a marriage together and therefore, supposed to sleep together!

One morning after a good night’s sleep, I admitted to him that I slept better when we slept apart. I asked him how he slept. He said he slept better, too. I took a deep breath, fought my fears of starting another argument and asked the million dollar question: “What do you think of us sleeping separately?”

It pissed him off! … at first. But, the more he thought about it, the more sense it made to him. His biggest concern was what people would think, because according to the “rules of marriage” a husband and wife are to sleep together — period! I told him it was no one’s business but ours.

And, you know what? He agreed! We’ve been sleeping separately for nearly a year now. Our home is much more peaceful and it’s so much easier to remember that we love each other. I know it may sound a bit dramatic, but I really think sleeping separately saved my marriage.

(I know you’ve got questions, so let me answer them. Yes, we still have sex and usually in his bed because he doesn’t mind sleeping in rumpled sheets. Yes, we have sleepovers, but only when company needs the guest room. Since we only sleep together occasionally our sleeping differences are a bit cuter again, but only for a few days.)

It took a lot for us to break one of the “rules of marriage.” But, what I’ve learned since then is that we’re not the only ones breaking this rule. Today reported that 60 percent of the 14,000 people who responded to one of their polls actually sleep better alone!

Breaking the rules really works for us. If your opposites-attract differences are driving you mad, maybe a little creative problem-solving is the right approach for you, as well.

“Love” doesn’t mean sucking it up and suffering for the other person. Love means evolving, getting creative, and making room for BOTH people’s needs to get met — even if that requires breaking rules or convention a bit.

After all, just blindly following “the rules” without regard for your truth (or your spouse’s) is just sucking it up and suffering for the sake of your marriage. No one needs to put up with a cookie cutter marriage that feels suffocating. So, go ahead and try breaking some rules together!

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. Should you stay, or should you go is a powerful question and I’m here to help you make a smart decision that will lead to your greatest happiness… whether you stay OR go. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.