All I want for Christmas is – my marriage to make it to New Year! There will be more than a few people keeping their fingers crossed on this one this December. The sad fact is that, while presents, mince pies and Santa Claus are all lovely, they bring pressures that can put a real strain on a marriage.
From unwanted presents to unwanted in-laws, stresses of cooking for 15 to just spending too much time together, the festive season can be the final straw for many marriages. That’s why the first weeks of the New Year are the busiest time for family lawyers.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. So, here are my top three gift ideas for your marriage this Christmas.
Peace on earth – the to-do list is long, the in-laws won’t go, the kids don’t like their gifts and you’ve had a few more drinks than normal, but stay calm! This is easier said than done, I know. However, Christmas puts us in situations that are not the norm and can cause undue stress. This does not mean that it is always bad and is not a time for making big decisions. Deep breath and have another mince pie. Making snap decisions in the heat of a Yuletide spat will not bring a Happy New Year.
It’s all about the children – it is a cliché but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s likely to be their favourite time of year. Don’t risk taking that away from them by getting into needless arguments, creating a prickly atmosphere or stopping them watching Paddington for the sixth time after buying them the DVD. That, in itself, is likely to cause tension in the marriage. For those families that are already separated, plan ahead on child arrangements and coordinate presents. You can always set it out in a letter in advance if wounds are still raw. This may be more palatable and certainly avoids arguing in front of the children.
Don’t be influenced by family or friends – you will spend more time than usual with these people at Christmas, likely over a couple of sherries but that definitely does not make them an expert on your relationship. They will have views and, if you have been having difficulties, often they will be happy to pass these on and advise what you should do. This may be based on their own experience or what their mate said down the pub. However, your situation is unique and cannot be compared to any other. Make your own decisions in the cold light of day. You have to live with them. Otherwise, you may find yourself living with the extended family you would rather avoid.
If you do feel that Christmas is the last straw, there are plenty of experienced family lawyers who will be happy to help. That first conversation with them should be around ensuring you have thought long and hard about what you are doing and have not based your decision on one stray comment or poorly-researched present.
And always remember, the song goes: ’Tis the season to be jolly!
On a serious note, if your relationship is at breaking point and you feel you would benefit from some legal advice speak to one of the experienced family lawyers at Woolley & Co, Solicitors on 0800 321 3832.
Written by Andrew Woolley, Woolley & Co Family Law Solicitors.