Press Release

Relationships and ridiculous jumpers: surviving Christmas with your loved ones by Mark Weber

Relationship research charity OnePlusOne has some top tips for maintaining the peace and goodwill at Christmas.

For many families, this is the one time of year when everybody comes together to eat, drink and be merry.

But when so many different characters are together in one place, it’s almost inevitable that there will be a row or two. And just the thought of arguments can cause couples to feel anxious about visiting each other’s families during the festive season.

Here are some top tips for couples at Christmas:

Dealing with the parents

You may be looking forward to spending time with your parents – your partner may be feeling stressed out about it. Likewise, you might find the thought of Christmas with the in-laws nerve wracking.

Prepare yourselves and talk to each other about what a typical Christmas with the family is like; the way your mum and you partner’s mum do things will probably be different.

Take a moment to call or email each other’s parents to see if they need help with the big day. Both your parents and the in-laws will appreciate the gesture and by communicating, stronger ties can be built between families.

If your parents are hosting, the thought of having an extra mouth to feed can be enough to get them flustered. Factor in any dietary requirements your partner may have and years of Christmas tradition can suddenly go out the window.

This can be a big shock to your parents’ systems – and their bank accounts! While you might be used to them paying for everything, it’s a good idea to offer to contribute. Why not get the turkey this year? Or simply split the cost of the food evenly between the adults?

Dealing with the kids

 For most kids, Christmas is about one thing and one thing only: presents. But the anticipation that builds up to the ceremonial unwrapping can lead to tears and tantrums.

Try spreading gift-giving across the day. After the presents have been opened and they’ve had a chance to play with everything, kids can get bored and start causing mischief. By handing gifts out throughout the day you can keep the excitement going and, hopefully, ensure good behaviour.

If the kids do misbehave, it’s unfair for you or your partner to be left to do the disciplining alone. Neither of you want to look like Scrooge. Show a united front and discuss in advance how you plan on dealing with bad behaviour.

Your first Christmas as a couple 

The first Christmas as a couple can be wonderfully romantic – everything’s new and there are opportunities to start your own traditions together. But having never spent this special time of year together before, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same wavelength.

The secret to a successful first Christmas is communication. Your partner’s not a mind-reader, and neither are you, so talk about what you both want from the festive season.

Christmas is often considered family time, and in the early days one or both of you may not feel ready to spend the day away from your relatives. Discuss how you would like to spend it – together or apart – in advance so you have time to make your own arrangements if necessary.

Don’t be offended if your partner is keen to stick with their family on Christmas day – for lots of people it’s a big step to spend Christmas day with their other half. Many only choose to do this once they’re married or have children.

Remember there are 12 days of Christmas. If you can’t spend the day itself together, why not plan your own romantic celebration on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, or do something to make New Year’s Eve particularly special instead?

Why ‘D-day’ doesn’t necessarily end in divorce by Mark Weber

Relationship research charity OnePlusOne is doing its bit to challenge the New Year narrative around the claim that the first day back at work is ‘divorce day’.

January is perceived to be the most popular time of year to file for divorce. The theory goes something like this: the longed for break from work can suddenly feel like being under house arrest, minor issues become magnified, too much booze leads to loosened tongues which can lead to rows and the first working day of the year will see a queue outside the local solicitors of enraged spouses who will file for divorce then and there.

January is the most popular time of year to enquire about divorce but it’s not the most popular time of year to file for divorce – OnePlusOne’s research team have found no statistics or evidence to back up the claim that there are more divorces in January than at any other time of the year. What is true is that January sees more web searches for ‘divorce’ and related terms, such as ‘counselling’, and legal firms will see a spike in enquiries about divorce and separation processes.

It’s no surprise that many couples fall out during the festive season – if your relationship is unsatisfactory and you’ve had a tricky time of it over Christmas, the thought of facing more of the same in New Year can lead to a sense of hopelessness. It’s a time of reflection and if you’re reflecting on the theme of “what can I do to make things different”, looking at the options around separation might seem like a good idea.

But there are other options. Recognising that you’re unhappy in a relationship offers you the opportunity to change things. Seeking help when thoughts of separation first creep in can be hugely helpful in resolving problems and makes the prospect of separating less likely.

OnePlusOne provides free online support to couples who want help to overcome relationship issues and stay together. We advise those who are thinking of separating from their partner to visit our Couple Connection web site – http://thecoupleconnection.net/ – and find out more about the DIY courses and support on offer, which can help people address their problems and improve their relationships.

In the event that separation is unavoidable, OnePlusOne can also sign-post people to resources to help minimise conflict. And, of course, the number one consideration for most parents is what’s best for their children. Help is at hand from OnePlusOne’s Parent Connection online service – it’s free, available 24/7 and offers reliable information and support. The courses and parenting plan provided have helped thousands of people who are trying to work out a way of parenting after parting that minimises the negative impact of a separation or divorce on their children.