Christmases and how to survive them!


Joanne Joyce from the Family Department of Lovedays Solicitors discusses a game plan for getting through the festive season unscathed.

Joanne Joyce Family Matriomonial Divorce SolicitorAs a solicitor specialising in Family Law, I tend not to say what I do for a living too loudly at Christmas parties, where I may be considered “bah humbug”! When I do admit what I do for a living, I am sometimes accused of “making money from other people’s misery”. I wonder whether there is some strange idea that I personally go round causing couples to fall out of love?

I have never viewed myself as having anything other than a positive role in the community. I help those with relationship difficulties and I steer them towards their new future. It seems like a worthwhile and caring profession to me.

So, in the interests of being an all-round good egg, I thought that an article on “How to Survive Christmas” might be of help, as, in my long experience, Christmas can be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back for those couples whose relations are already strained and floundering.

The Christmas survival kit

Always plan ahead and start to get things organised ahead of time. Last minute panic causes stress and anxiety. Frayed tempers, angry outbursts and fall outs do not make for a great Christmas time. A major benefit of forward planning is that you will have a smug sense of achievement when all your arrangements are in order well ahead of the big day.

Work together to get things done, then no one will be resentful about “doing all of the work”. Share the burden as much as possible and try to discuss how you feel about your work load.

Ask for help and allocate tasks to other family members and friends. This way everyone benefits. If one person only has the roast potatoes to do, then they can give it 100% attention and provide the best roast potatoes ever!

Manage expectations between yourselves as a couple and agree what Christmas will look like. If you have different expectations, then perhaps you should consider compromising something like half of Christmas Day for charades and the other half for a long country walk?

Communicate, discuss and agree things. Keep talking and try to find a way through. If you have something to say to your other half, then arrange to have that chat rather than shouting your grievance in a drunken stupor on Christmas Day.

Agree a budget for Christmas and plan how much you will spend and how to finance it. That way you will at least take away the financial pressure. Also you can both get out the sticky back plastic and your Blue Peter instructions and do “homemade gifts”.

Then, very importantly, remember “never eat yellow snow” – as this can be very bad indeed!

If your relationship is already strained before the Christmas celebrations start, then it may be wise to have a chat with me before the Christmas holidays. That way you can go into the festive period knowing what your options are. You may have one small niggling concern in the back of your mind which can be settled just by getting advice and information. And, of course, you’ll be getting in quick before the post-Christmas rush for family solicitors!

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