Relationship counselling experts Relate Gloucestershire and Swindon is anticipating a peak in calls in the New Year after relationship tensions come to a head over the Christmas holidays.
In January 2017, the charity experienced a 20 per cent peak in calls and a 47 per cent increase in visits to the national website (relate.org.uk), a popular source of self-help and information for relationships.
This rise in people getting in touch is an annual pattern but Relate Gloucestershire and Swindon said by the time many couples get in touch their relationship is already at crisis point.
Which probably explains why January is notoriously the most popular month for divorces.
Relate’s research has found one in 10 divorcees said that with the right support they would have been able to save the relationship and stay together and another 18 per cent said they would have been able to make the ending of their relationship easier to deal with.
Kimberley Wall, service development manager at Relate Gloucestershire and Swindon said: “This year, Relate research highlighted that money worries were cited as the top strain on relationships at any time of year – 26 per cent of couples feel this pressure.
“Throw in the extra financial stress families are under at Christmas, alongside the fact that most people are off work and school so they spend more time together with their (step/blended/extended) family who may all have different ideals of the perfect Christmas - then potentially add in the additional alcohol consumption associated with celebrations and if there are tensions lurking underneath the surface already then they are more likely to appear in times of additional stress including the Christmas period”.
All of which helps explain why in an effort to help couples swerve an otherwise pending disaster relate has released tips for couple as we plunge into the festive period proper.
Relatives assuming you will spend Christmas with them this year
Try to discuss your festive plans well in advance of the big day, considering everyone’s feelings as much as you can and if you cannot spend Christmas Day with them, find another time during the Christmas period when you can get together. Remember though, that it might be impossible to please everyone – try not to worry or feel guilty about this.
Your partner tends to spend a lot of money on food and gifts
Relate’s research has found that money worries are a top strain on relationships and Christmas can place extra pressure on finances. Talk to your partner beforehand about what you can jointly afford to spend on food and presents. If the arguments persist, consider some counselling to help you better communicate about money and understand each other’s attitudes to it.
A family member has too much to drink and makes hurtful comments
As tempting as it may be to react, take a few deep breaths and try to stay calm. Accusing them of having too much to drink could make it worse. Instead, you could say “I’m not sure Christmas Day is the best time to discuss this. Let’s talk about it another time.” If you feel there are deeper underlying issues you may wish to consider family counselling.
The constant socialising is getting too much
Don’t feel bad about excusing yourself so you can get an hour or so of ‘me’ time. It will mean you are in a better mood when you are with your family, so it is in everyone’s interest. Even better if as a couple you can ensure that you have some quality time as a twosome.
You have too many things to do and you‘re feeling irritable
Don’t suffer in silence. Explain to others in the family how you are feeling. See if you can delegate a few tasks and share the burden.