The Aftermath of Christmas on a Relationship and Family

As a nation, we seem to put ourselves under more and more pressure each year to make Christmas better and to try and make people happy - and as a result we make ourselves miserable.

For most families, Christmas is a joyous time, full of celebration and laughter. But for others it can be incredibly stressful and have a real impact on relationships.

It is even more intense when it falls the way it did last year, merging with the weekend, which meant that for only three days booked annual leave, the holiday lasted around two weeks. In general, when it falls on, say, a Tuesday or Wednesday, a lot of people return to work or go home as there is more of a clear break between Christmas and New Year.

As a nation, we seem to put ourselves under more and more pressure each year to make Christmas better and to try and make people happy - and as a result we make ourselves miserable.

Family tensions

I had one client who dreaded Christmas every year from around October. She felt obliged to invite her husband's family and yet also felt that she couldn't do anything right for them. They complained about the food - everything from the content, to the amount, to the way it was cooked, to the time it was served...........etc etc and yet didn't lift a finger to help.

From her side, she didn't ask for help either as she wanted to try and please them. In addition, most of them didn't get on with each other and they argued constantly. If she said anything that vaguely resembled supporting one side or the other, she would end up in the middle of the argument, pleasing no one. She was completely miserable for about three months of the year and yet really thought she was doing the right thing.

Eventually her children told her how much they dreaded Christmas as well and that was the catalyst to effect change - with my help and support. It took a while for her to realise that her own tolerance of this behaviour for so long was in fact reiterating it.

Another client was trying to please everyone by getting himself into debt. He felt that he had to spend more and more money as a symbol of his love and as a result created bigger and bigger expectations each year that he couldn't live up to or afford.

He initially consulted me to help with his children's behaviour, which could best be summed up as selfish and demanding. Again, it took a while for him to realise that his own behaviour was driving theirs.

January is a busy month for divorce lawyers

The first few weeks in January are notoriously busy for divorce solicitors with a record number of calls being received on the 4th. All reputable solicitors will advise potential clients to think carefully about their decision but without help it's sometimes difficult to get clarity and perspective, particularly when you've just endured two weeks of seemingly constant arguments.

So should you stay or leave?

Always a dilemma. I am currently working with six clients on this subject:

Two (one male and one female) have recognised that they are in an emotionally abusive relationship and have to get out and I'm helping them to do this. It's not an easy decision and the effects of emotional abuse are grossly underestimated - the effect on the children as well as on the spouse - and it takes emotional strength and support to see things through to the right conclusion.

Two others have recognised that while Christmas was stressful, it was mainly down to the dynamics of the wider family unit such as 'interfering' or 'overbearing' parents or parents -in-law and that with certain changes their relationship with their spouse was fundamentally sound and could be strong again.

The final two are caught in the dilemma of recognising that the relationship is over but think they should stay in their marriage because of the children and we are currently working this through. In some circumstances, it may well turn out to be in the children's best interests for the parents to stay together but not always.

Sometimes it is better to come from a broken home than live in one.

Ask yourselves 'what is the impact on my children of staying together?' How destructive is the relationship for them? What example are you setting them?

For every parent I see who tells me that they can't leave their marriage because of the children, I get a child or an adult who is emotionally and psychologically scarred by the experience of their parents staying together and wish that their parents had separated and allowed them to build robust and supportive relationships with both of them.

Do you need to find the strength to leave a relationship? Do you need help to rediscover and rebuild your relationship? Whatever your dilemma or issue - help is at hand. Please call for a free and confidential consultation: 07774169940 or

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