Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, author of Make Up Don’t Break Up warns couples that they must “holiday proof” their marriage and family in these economically challenging times.

“Holiday stress coupled with money anxiety is a set up for marital problems,” warns Dr. Bonnie. There is a direct correlation between stress and behavior that can be detrimental to relationships. From drinking too much, over eating, lack of sleep, and a myriad of other stress related behaviors a marriage on the brink can suffer irreparable damage.

According to a 2006 survey by the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/women-stress.aspx) women are susceptible to feeling more stressed and engage in unhealthy behaviors during the holidays.

Dr. Bonnie suggests that both partners engage in activities that counteract the stresses many couples are sure to experience this holiday season. “Kiss more, hold more, and look for activities that create playful fun that aren’t costly.” Dr. Bonnie also recommends that couples tell the truth to their extended friends, family and children about their economic situation. “Don’t write checks you don’t have money for. Send a card with a loving sentiment instead of gifts. Friends and family will understand, and are most likely in similar economic situations.”

Another stress to marriages is unhappy kids who act out. Parents must also realize that their children feel stress, and busy parents miss the cues. “According to a 2009 study, (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/11/stress.aspx), teens and tweens were more likely than parents to say that their stress had increased in the last year. Nearly half of the teens surveyed ages 13-17 said that they worried more this year, but only 28 percent of parents think their teen’s stress increased, and while a quarter of tweens ages 8-12 said they worried more this year, only 17 percent of parents believed their tween’s stress had increased. “This has two implications. Children are more stressed than ever, and parents aren’t aware,” explains Dr. Bonnie

Dr. Bonnie recommends that parents have healthy and honest discussions with their children about their fears and concerns, and teach appropriate behaviors to relieve stress, like playing ball instead of video games. Physical activity releases stress, while sitting exacerbates it.

Make Up Don’t Break Up offers communication tips, and assists couples develop skills to stay together when faced with adversity and the stressors of daily life.

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