It’s December; the Christmas lights are up in the high streets; the shops are getting busy; the glossies are full of advice on how to lose weight, buy the perfect gifts and cook a fabulous meal. The new Coca-Cola advert is out, which is always a good indication that Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer the Christmas countdown is here.
Whether you enjoy Christmas as a seasonal yearly event or it’s meaning is of religious or spiritual value to you there is always something magical and exciting that appeals to the child in us isn’t there?
But are you starting to feel overwhelmed by all the Christmas offers, food ideas and the constant pressure to spend more than you have?
There is no doubt about it – Christmas can be a stressful time. None of us is superhuman and the expense of buying gifts, the pressure of shopping, keeping every-one happy and our own heightened expectations can all effect our emotions and well being.
Despite all the media images of happy couples and families grouped around the Christmas tree, the reality is that Christmas can be a very tense time in our relationships too. Most of us start out with the best of intentions, a desire to spoil our partner, wanting that idealised family image, to somehow make everything perfect; but we can often end up experiencing relationship distress instead.
Our individual hopes, financial pressures and juggling extended family expectations can all build up and combine, causing a sense of shame, feelings of isolation and resentment, which can then overspill into arguments, rows or long strong silences.
We can get fooled into thinking it is just us, but according to a survey on the divorce-online blog 25% of the 1,560 adults who were asked about their relationship at Christmas said they felt pressured and one in six said they had rowed (although I think the real figure is probably much higher)
It isn’t just happening to you.
The rows, strong silences or forced politeness do not mean a personal failure or that your relationship has to be over.
I think it is important to take care of ourselves in the run up to or after Christmas and ensure we take care of our relationship.
Relationship or Marriage therapy can offer a way forward. Just because you are all on top of each other and the financial and other pressures are being applied doesn’t mean you have to fall out with your partner. There is a way that the two of you can work together and make life easier for you both – the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
My own relationship counselling practice is for any couple: straight or gay, married ,living together or dating. I provide a safe place to talk, help you make sense of what’s been happening in your relationship, explore with you the changes you would like to make, and work with you to create positive and long lasting change.