Supposedly, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. We should deck the halls with boughs of holly, sneak kisses under mistletoe and feel alive with the glorious twin spirits of love and kindness. It’s the time to remember how lucky we are, a time to spend with loved ones, a time to see the good in everyone.
However, statistically, Christmas is also the time most likely to herald separations. Family law practices all over Australia report a dramatic increase in divorce proceedings every January; approximately ten-thousand couples file for divorce at the end of the festive season.
So, what makes the merry yuletide such a minefield for relationships?
We know we are meant to be having a great time around Christmas and New Year; and this kind of knowledge tends to make us extra critical. By the time the silly season actually rolls around, we have been steamrolled by ads for the perfect gift, endlessly looped tunes proclaiming merry brightness and countless posts on social media reporting the great time everyone else is having; there is very little chance for reality to measure up. If your marriage is already a little rocky, adding extended family get-togethers, mandatory presents and celebratory drinks into the mix is unlikely to do you any favours.
Most Australians love to party… even without a special occasion. Give them an actual reason – like Christmas lunch at Mum and Dad’s or Auntie Beryl’s Boxing Day BBQ – and they will rise to the occasion with glee. Unfortunately, especially in a setting as emotionally complex as a family gathering, this is often a recipe for conflict. According to Australian Emergency Services, incidents of domestic violence increase by 157% on New Year’s Eve/Day, a sad climax after a steady rise of altercations over the Christmas period.
Christmas is Expensive
Over time, the financial strain Christmas means for the average family has become nothing short of ridiculous. Presents for children, partners, extended family and friends, paired with the traditional culinary trappings, beverages and, ideally, a summer holiday getaway around the same time… It is not surprising that tensions in the home are on the rise this time of year. Keeping Christmas within your financial means – unless you are vastly rich – coping with some disappointment or at the very least questions about just how disappointing this is for you, while the consumer-storm rages around you. Disappointment, as we all know, can turn into resentment of your partner very quickly.
The Last Hoorah
Of course, not every couple filing for divorce by January was in a good place in late November; many separations have been long in the making. However, especially when children are involved, many couples opt to see through the festive season together, before going their separate ways in the new year. After all, this will give everyone involved a chance to adjust to the new situation and get used to new arrangements before the next Christmas rolls around.
If you are already struggling in your relationship, it is a good idea to remind yourself at the start of the Christmas season, that the next few weeks are unlikely to improve matters, no matter how determined you are to make this the most harmonious, perfect Christmas ever. In fact, it is probably best to enter the celebratory fracas with as little expectation as possible – good or bad.
If you feel there is no better way to start the new year than making a clean break and moving on as far as your relationship is concerned, know that you don’t have to spend the last of your Christmas-battered funds on expensive divorce lawyers.