Is this Christmas time just mistletoe and whine?
By Daniel Russell
The problem with Christmas, I’ve found, is that it’s almost impossible to escape the company of Noddy Holder. Or of Roy Wood, George Michael, Paul McCartney, David Essex or pretty much anyone who was anyone in the music biz during the Seventies and Eighties.
The festive season has arrived with a vengeance and along with it, come thoughts of snow, reindeer, elves and divorce.
This time of the year has earned a reputation as ‘divorce season’. The number of petitions for divorce spike during January and as I write, we are a mere 33 days away from January 7th 2019 – the Monday early in the New Year officially designated as Divorce Day.
This is the day when solicitors around the country see a disproportionate number of potential clients looking to end their marriages.
So, what is it about Christmas that causes divorce? The simple answer, really, is that Christmas doesn’t cause divorce at all; but it’s pretty good at lifting the drain covers on all the things that are wrong with a relationship.
If you think about it, the ingredients for a pretty potent brand of emotional soup are all there.
Intense financial pressure telescoped into a window of about four weeks? Check. Alcohol freely available and consumed with equal liberality? Check. Spending time with people we actively avoid for the rest of the year? Check. Squabbling children? Check.
And let’s not beat about the bush here, we also get to spend a lot of time in close proximity to our wife or husband, and that’s an area in which many busy couples have fallen out of practice.
Then there are the myriad tiny, petty arguments which, on their own, amount to nothing but which, given a holly-hued tint, can accumulatively help to escalate irritation into full-blown emotional Armageddon: the way someone drives, mounting tasks and chores, school run, lack of time to plan, Christmas shopping … and so it goes.
Yet for all that, divorce is rarely something any couple takes lightly; and while the Christmas season may be leaning its red-cloaked shoulder into the back of a relationship to shunt it into oblivion, it’s almost certainly taken many months or years to reach the point where it’s possible to look into the abyss of divorce.
And it’s also true to say that while Christmas may feature large in a list of suspects when it comes to working out what played the biggest part of sending a marriage over the edge, the festive season also often delays what may ultimately prove an inevitable outcome as families use the enforced season of goodwill to try to mend fences.
In the end and on its own, Christmas will neither cause a marriage to break up nor save it from imploding.
So, what should be the consideration for couples who are dealing with issues within their relationship, whether they acknowledge them to each other or not, and are thinking of starting divorce proceedings?
Our advice would always to be entirely sure you want to go down the divorce path. Whilst there is no reason, per se, for divorce to be necessarily unpleasant, neither is it ever a pleasant experience.
It can, and often is, a blessed relief for those who have been trapped in an unhappy marriage – but it comes at an emotional and a financial cost that nobody in their right mind would choose to experience without having complete certainty that ending the marriage is the only remaining option.
Talking through the problems is, obviously, a good step – particularly well before Christmas gets under way in earnest and stress and pressure are at their height. Being honest may be difficult but it may also save acrimony and be easier on children or others closely connected to your relationship.
If you can’t resolve your issues yourself, then talking to a marriage counsellor may help to isolate and deal with particular issues that are driving disharmony between you and your spouse.
If you still think divorce is the only solution, then talking to a divorce solicitor to understand precisely what you’re likely to be letting yourself in for financially and emotionally is absolutely vital to allow you to make a decision that’s fully informed.
We’d recommend that your solicitor should have two non-negotiable qualities:
The first is that they are part of a practice that is committed to finding the best possible resolution through negotiation. Going to court is always expensive and rarely in your financial interests, unless it’s the only way of ensuring a fair settlement.
The second quality is that you should like your solicitor, get on well with him or her and trust them completely. If you set off on the road to divorce you will share a great deal of personal information with them, so having a good relationship will make the whole process easier.
If your circumstances makes it impossible to continue with your marriage, then we’re here to offer you friendly, sympathetic and specialist advice and support.
But more than anything, we wish you a very happy and loving Christmas that is full of joy. Even if only until January.