Article first published at The Business Desk West Midlands (20 December 2018)

Chris Lloyd-Smith is a member of the life-stage planning team and an accredited family mediator at Anthony Collins Solicitors.

Despite its eternal charm, Christmas is stressful. Accompanying the shopping for presents, hosting loved-ones and dinner parties, are a variety of issues including financial stress, family feuds and overindulgence. This pressure can only be sustained for so long and can accentuate fracture points in a person’s marriage.

For relationships already bearing cracks, the tremors from the festive period can be enough to bring the house down. The media frenzy around ‘Divorce Day’ – a correlation between separation enquires and the first Monday back for family solicitors from the festive break – only adds fuel to the fire.

As a solicitor, I am no stranger to the many reasons behind relationship struggles, but through my experience, I know how to help couples work through problems and find a mutually beneficial solution. While sometimes couples resolve their issues, and continue in their relationship, unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t possible.

If you have concerns about whether your relationship is coming to an end, use Christmas as an opportunity for reflection. Time away from work can provide you and your partner with the freedom to evaluate the nature of your problems, both independently and together.

Interlinked with this, and an important part of relieving stress over the festive period, is communication. By talking about your concerns with your partner and, importantly, listening to what they have to say, you can find a better understanding; both about existing challenges and problems that Christmas may bring to the surface.

Often, common points of conflict are around responsibilities – who buys the presents, when are family coming over, who cooks and does the chores. By discussing this ahead of time and sharing the burden, these issues can be avoided, relieving additional stress and allowing time for constructive conversation.

Marriage is a complex, long-term commitment and should only end immediately in the worst situations. Try to avoid knee-jerk decisions, especially where children are present. Christmas is a delicate period, and a child’s wellbeing is always the priority.

A common misconception is that you should only consult a solicitor when you make the final decision to separate. At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we see part of our job as signposting clients to other agencies or professionals who can support them such as relationship coaches or counsellors.

If you are finding Christmas difficult and feel like the only option is to separate or divorce, remember that you are not alone.

Our family department is committed to helping couples and families over the festive period and throughout the year. Our specialist solicitors and accredited mediators can provide advice and assistance, relieving some of your stress and helping you gain perspective on your situation.

For more information

If you would like further information on this article, or for any enquiries concerning divorces or family mediation, please contact Chris Lloyd-Smith.