Christmas can be the happiest time of the year, but it is also a time when relationships of all sort can come to the boil. A significant number of romantic relationships and marriages begin breaking up at Christmas time. So, what is going on?
Tradition has dictated that our winter holiday is a time for family and friends, and in northern climes, the cold weather and short days mean that we spend a lot of time indoors with our nearest and dearest. Add alcohol to the mix, and it becomes easier to understand how things can blow up so easily.
But it’s more complicated than just that. Christmas is also a time when we try to live up to an idealised version of our families. We think with nostalgia of family Christmases gone by, and project our hopes and dreams into the future. In this context, things that we don’t like, or find difficult, suddenly seem more important than at other times of the year. We ask ourselves if we can really imagine spending the next ten, twenty or fifty years by the side of this person as we both get older and more set in our ways. We look at children opening their gifts and, if we don’t have children yet, ask ourselves if this is really the one we want to have them with. And while all of this is going on, they are asking themselves similar questions about us! Then comes New Year and the loaded question of what we want for the year ahead. As we all collectively make our New Year’s resolutions (must lose weight, work harder, get along better with our siblings) every year a sizable number of us also decide that it is time for a clean slate in the romance department.
While none of this is easy – whether you are being left or doing the leaving – the simple truth is that it’s not Christmas’s fault. A relationship that cannot cope with the added stress and strain of Christmas was probably not meant to last. Relationships constructed on firmer foundations will make it through, and the minor tiffs and squabbles that are a normal aspect of family festivities will be chalked up to an over-indulgence in the brandy butter!
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