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London - With Christmas almost upon us, I am already anticipating the post-Christmas line of patients at my door telling me how badly they’ve coped.
Invariably there will be some who, after many years of marriage, are thinking of separating, if not getting a divorce.
Others will have fallen out with opinionated and interfering in-laws when all they wanted to do was spend Christmas with their very nearest and dearest.
Some will be suffering from having spent Christmas alone.
There is no denying that the festive period can be very difficult. Christmas and New Year often offer a false sense of happiness, not helped by the fact that it’s the “done thing” for people to get together, irrespective of what their personal wishes might be.
There’s so much cheerfulness and sometimes false bonhomie that often this is too much for people to cope with.
As Michael Kallenbach, a relationship therapist with whom my practice works closely, puts it: “Holidays put an incredible amount of pressure on people and their relationships, and once they start internalising about what they have in life, they might use Christmas as a time to evaluate things. They may then decide the relationship they’re in is not exactly a happy one, or the one they want.”
Sometimes couples decide to stay together in the run up to Christmas and make a conscious decision not to disrupt the family life before the holidays.
This is so they can keep up the pretence that everything is “just like it always is” in order not to upset close family, and possibly even the children.
Kallenbach’s advice for squabbling couples, whatever their problems, is that it’s best to talk about it, rather than brush it all under the carpet (or the Christmas tree).
Be of good heart. Happy Christmas. - Daily Mail