Divorce lawyers may not be the first people you think of when looking for tips on how to enjoy the Christmas period, but having heard stories over the years from clients who have plenty to say about how their partner ruined their Christmas, here are our top tips for having a peaceful and pleasurable Christmas:
Compromise and respect the traditions
Each family celebrates Christmas in different ways and has their own traditions, often passed down generations, but when different families come together for Christmas, it can be difficult to respect the varying ways each family marks the occasion. Christmas Day for some may be a brisk family walk before a traditional Christmas lunch, others may celebrate Christmas with a few drinks in the pub before a more casual dinner. For others, Christmas is a religious event and starts with a church service. There may be other traditions which may seem more trivial, but which may be part of the fabric of what makes Christmas special to them – gathering to watch the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, for example. There is always room for compromise and to create new traditions together. Perhaps arranging the walk so that it passes a pub, allowing for a swift pint or two, or organising dinner time so that it does not clash with another event.
Give each other space…
Christmas can be a great opportunity to spend lots of time with friends and family, but it can get very claustrophobic very quickly. Often families are cooped up inside together for long periods of time and it can quickly become a boiling pot when certain habits start to grate and tempers can flare. Don’t let that become a problem and if somebody wants to escape for a while and go for a lie down or for a walk to take some time out, don’t see it as a negative but just a natural part of spending protracted time in each other’s pockets.
… but make time for yourselves together
That said, also make sure you dedicate some time to yourselves. It can be all too easy to spend the entire Christmas period in the car darting from one family member to another, so make sure time is built in to allow for this. Perhaps enjoy a lie in and a relaxed family breakfast on Boxing Day before heading out and doing the family rounds. Don’t forget it is your day too, so don’t feel pressured into spending the whole day trying to please others.
Budget, budget, budget
This year more than ever, Christmas can put a strain on family finances, which may already be under stress. Financial worries can often be a catalyst to the breakdown of a relationship, so discuss a budget in advance and try to stick to it. Your kids will still have a great Christmas spending time doing Christmas things with family and not even notice if they get a few less presents this year.
Don’t sweat the little stuff
Everybody is searching for that perfect Christmas, one where everything goes according to plan. But Christmas can be hard work, especially for the host, who can feel a lot of pressure to make sure everything is just right. But don’t sweat the little stuff. Okay, the turkey may come out a little later than planned and the odd potato may be a little singed, but don’t let it ruin the day. Issues here and there will quickly be forgotten and absolute disasters will become part of the family’s Christmas story, which will be looked back on fondly with a chuckle (“do you remember that Christmas when we had to have takeaway pizza because dad forgot to turn on the oven!”). Ultimately, it is one extremely busy day, not everything will be as anticipated, but give each other a bit of slack.
And if all else fails
Christmas is just a few days of the year, so remember that you will get through it. If things haven’t gone well, try not to let it ruin your Christmas and if you have children, try to keep the energy up for them. Avoid making snap decisions based on what has happened over the Christmas period, particularly after one too many sherries. Christmas is unique and presents unique challenges, so don’t let it cloud your judgment. There is plenty of time once the Christmas period is over to take stock and have a calm and rational conversation to discuss any issues that have flared up and to seek any support and guidance that may help guide you and any decisions you decide to make.
Have a merry Christmas from all at Ward Hadaway.
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