JANUARY is a time many of us like to make New Year’s resolutions.
But, for a growing number, ending a miserable relationship is top of the list.
We have seven tips to divorce-proof your ChristmasCredit: Getty
The first Monday after the start of the year has long been dubbed “divorce day” by lawyers, who see a spike in couples seeking advice on how to end their marriages.
Experts say it often follows the stress of trying to have a perfect “chocolate box” Christmas when you’re simply no longer happy with your spouse.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sally Land, The Sun’s Agony Aunt, says: “I get letters all year around from people worried about Christmas Day.
“There is so much pressure to be flawless and have a perfect time that anything less than the dream can be incredibly hard for people to cope with.
“But we can all put some simple steps in place to ensure a much calmer and genuinely joyful time.”
Here are Sally’s seven tips for married couples wanting to divorce-proof their Christmas.
KEEPING your family, work and friends all happy can be exhausting.
Stop and think about what is important to you.
What would make you happy over Christmas?
Perhaps you would like to wake up at home with the kids on Christmas Day and have the morning to yourselves.
Maybe you want to watch a film with your partner and wrap all the presents together the night before, while enjoying a glass of fizz.
Write down one or two things. Then talk to your partner about prioritising those.
If you feel appreciated and considered, you’ll have more energy to give to others.
USE the holidays as an opportunity to switch off from the pressures of work.
Put your out-of-office message on.
If you can, consider removing your work email from your phone for the break.
Make time instead to focus on your partner.
With children waking early, and late-night partying, it’s easy to neglect each other.
But we know having sex is good for our mental health.
After all, it releases oxytocin, the love hormone in both men and women, and that should help you feel happier and more connected.
A BIG Christmas dinner and lots of gifts come at a price which is too much for many to foot alone during a cost-of-living crisis.
Talk to your family and agree to a smaller gift budget, so you don’t feel stressed.
Consider asking other family members to contribute to the meal.
Explain to your kids that you are on a tight budget and that they can really help by not going OTT with their present demands.
It’s a great opportunity to renew a genuine sense of connection by changing the focus from extravagant gift-giving to spending quality time with those you love.
The average divorce costs £14,561 these days so it really is worth releasing yourself from all that expectation.
WHEN dishing out or receiving invitations, be really clear about what you need, so everyone is on the same page.
Give the time you want guests to arrive and it’s fine also to say when, ideally, you need people to leave.
Tell people what you want them to contribute.
You can still be a great host and ask people to bring a dish, or bedding.
Also, if your mind is full of a million and one things to do, your partner will quickly fall down your list of priorities and could feel neglected, and vice versa.
Being organised will help you enjoy the holidays together.
MAKE sure you are creating time for you and your partner to check in with each other.
With so many family and friends to catch up with, it’s more important than ever to regularly ask your other half if they need anything, if it’s OK for you to pop down to the pub, or head over to your sisters.
And doing in front of a room full of people isn’t the same as quietly asking while you are alone.
You and your partner are at the centre of everything, so make sure you stick together.
You could even have a codeword so that if you need a private conversation, you can subtly signal to the other that you would appreciate a moment.
HAVE lower expectations of yourself.
We all exhaust ourselves, trying to make every meal a feast, our gifts for loved ones extravagant and attend every single invitation.
It’s absolutely fine to serve up soup and sandwiches and turn down gatherings when you simply need a night at home to recharge.
NOT all divorces are avoidable, or even the wrong decision, especially when children are growing up in a miserable home surrounded by bad behaviour.
But in plenty of marriages, just opening up and talking to each other can make a world of difference.
I’m not talking about what pudding to have, I mean opening up about your worries and concerns.
It’s not easy to speak genuinely about your vulnerabilities but the more you open up the closer you get.
Alice McIntyre argues with her architect husband Chris every ChristmasCredit: SUPPLIED
WRITER Alice McIntyre, 40, argues with her architect husband Chris, 39, every Christmas.
The couple live in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with their children Charlotte, 13, Oscar, 8, and Imogen, 19 months. Alice says:
“Christmas turns me into a nagging wife, as much as I hate to admit it. Chris and I always end up arguing.
The main problem is that I take on more of the festive load.
The stress starts as we try to keep up with the kids’ school schedule – which is rammed at this time of year.
There’s Christmas Jumper Day, bringing in a decoration for the class tree, donations to the Christmas fair, a costume for the Nativity.
These matter to the kids and are not on Chris’s radar.
When I ask him to help me find the box of Christmas decorations all I get is a shrug, and an unenthusiastic: “It’s probably in the cellar”.
Then there’s present buying. I’m in charge, unless there’s a gift he really wants to buy. I’ll spend all my spare time trawling the internet for the perfect gifts while also trying to get the best deals. Chris isn’t lazy. He loves cleaning and gardening.
But I do all the “little extras”.
My most hated job is wrapping gifts. Unless I set Chris up with a beer, pieces of pre-cut tape and a roll of paper, that falls on my shoulders too.
There are other things too.
Not saying thank you for all my effort, staying in bed on Christmas morning when I’m up at 5.30am with the kids – it all enrages me.
So it isn’t surprising that January is the most common month for people to start divorce proceedings.”
CHRIS SAYS: “There is no need to over-complicate Christmas.
“We don’t need to plan for five weeks for one lunch. It’s better to do it quickly days before.
“You can buy presents on Christmas Eve, although it can be stressful.
“I’m not interested in the small stuff.
“I think Alice enjoys doing it all so I leave it to her. I didn’t realise I wasn’t being helpful.”
Stats on splits
- FORTY-TWO per cent of British marriages now end in divorce.
- In the UK a couple spends an average of £14,561 to go their separate ways.
- Legal fees are the most common cost in the UK, encountered by 54 per cent of divorcing people.
- The average length of marriage for opposite-sex couples in the UK at the time of divorce is 11.9 years.
- The average UK divorce age is 43.9 for women and 46.4 for men.
- Unreasonable behaviour is the number one reason cited for divorce in the UK.
- Adultery is the cause of 14 per cent of divorces in Britain.
- Between January and March 2023 there were 28,865 divorce applications made.