The festive season is supposed to be such an exciting and happy time, traditionally spent with loved ones. It’s when we get to spend quality time with our partners, without the daily routines of work and school runs to interrupt. We have time to relax, share long meals and celebrate with our family and friends and spoil each other with thoughtful gifts. 

So why is it that for so many couples it also toasts the end of their relationship?

Well it’s a sad fact that it’s when we do spend quality time with our partners that any cracks will start to show up. We don’t have the common distractions of daily routine, so we have more time to focus on the relationship. Of course, if you have a solid partnership then the festive season is a great opportunity to see more of each other. However, if the foundations are already rocky then this could even be make or break time.

5 things you MUST WATCH OUT FOR over Christmas:

  1. You and your partner may have different ideas about Christmas. You may want to spend time with family and they may want some quiet time off work to relax. Make sure your ideas are aligned to avoid tensions.
  1. Christmas can be an expensive time of year and can be the root of a lot of anxiety. Set a budget with your partner in advance that you both agree to and stick to it.
  1. Household chores are often a bone of contention over the holidays so make sure you set expectations clearly so everyone knows what they are responsible for. If you know that you won’t be getting much help around the house, plan for that in advance so you can avoid arguments.
  1. It’s an exciting time of year for kids at Christmas so it’s easy to focus all your attention on them. Make sure you set some time aside for your partner to do something you will both enjoy together, without the kids.
  1. Spending time with family is often part of the tradition of Christmas, however it can also be stressful to have extended family around. Planning in advance will help you to manage the time carefully so it doesn’t over run or become too much for either of you.

However sometimes a break-up is on the cards and maybe it isn’t your choice. If you do find yourself single for the New Year then here are my top 10 tips to surviving and thriving your break-up:

  1. Surround yourself with friends and family who care about you. It’s important to be around people who will make you feel good about yourself. Be careful not to spend time with those who zap your energy or who are so emotionally involved in your break-up that they make you feel worse.
  2. Take back your control. You can work at your own pace through this and take the time you want to respond to any communication from your ex. Don’t feel pressured into replying until you have had a chance to properly consider what you want to say.
  3. Remember it’s OK to cry. In fact it’s a natural part of the grieving process and it’s totally normal to feel sad at the end of a relationship that meant a lot to you. By allowing yourself to cry you also release some of the pressure and upset that otherwise would be stuffed down and linger for much longer.
  4. Create your Break-Up Support Team. Get a good team around you so you have answers to all the questions you are facing. This will give you peace of mind and also reduce any overwhelm you have. This may include a lawyer who can help you deal with any legal issues, a financial advisor who can help you plan financially for your future and a coach or therapist who can help you cope better with any negative emotions. 
  5. Get out the house and move! Make sure you take up some form of exercise, as even a brisk walk around the block will help you to feel better. It can be the last thing you feel like but it will give you a much needed boost. To motivate yourself, book a session with a trainer or as a friend to join you to ensure it actually happens. Once you start you will be surprised at how addictive it can be.
  6. Take off the rose tinted glasses. Write a list of all the things you weren’t happy with in your relationship. If you are heartbroken and finding it hard to let go of your ex this is a great exercise. When we reminisce about our partners it’s easy to focus on all the good bits and romanticise about things. But this will keep you stuck in the past and it isn’t always reality as this list will show!
  7. Redesign your life just the way you want it. A break-up may be the end of a relationship but it is also the start of a new phase in your life. So ask yourself how you want your life to be moving forward and plan a future that gets you excited!
  8. Do things that make you smile. It’s important to have some fun in your life, even when you feel low and sad. So plan in your diary some things that you enjoy doing and make sure you do them.
  9. Ask for help. If you are struggling to cope with the negative emotions then make sure you ask for help. Some people find it hard to reach out but there are books out there which can help you to move forward after a break-up, as well as experts who specialise in this area. 
  10. Focus on the positive. Sadly not everything in life works out just the way we want it to but you will get over it and be happy again. Sometimes good things fall apart so even better things can come together.

How to start off your divorce in the best way possible:

If you are able to be amicable then this is always the best option, especially if you have children together with your ex. For some people they can consciously uncouple and move forward as friends and find it easy to see each other.

For others, and most of my clients, they are what I have termed aggressively serving. For some parties it is not what they want but when you are divorcing someone who is hell bent on being difficult then sometimes you have no option.

My top tips if you are facing a divorce are:

  1. Get a good support team around you. This can be a rollercoaster of emotions and practical challenges so you need to have people around you who care about you and who you can talk to.
  2. Remember that you are not alone and there are lots of people who are going through this too and also who can help you to get through this. 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce (50% in USA) and this is the most common time of year for it. 
  3. Work out what YOU want from the break-up. Have an idea in your head of what you think is fair and how you would like to see it working. This could include arrangements with the children, where you would live and finances. 
  4. If you can talk amicably to your ex then this is always a good idea. Find out what they are thinking and this will help you to determine the best way forward for you. 
  5. Research the different ways to get divorced as you can do it online these days! If you need a lawyer then choose carefully and find one who suits the type of divorce you are having. If it is a friendly amicable split you will want a very different approach from an aggressive severing situation. Remember that the lawyer you choose will set the tone for your divorce.
  6. Make sure you feel comfortable to talk to your lawyer as you will have to share intimate and personal information with them.
  7. Ask to meet the junior who will be working on your case as you may find you spend more time talking with them than the person you met in your meeting. You need to make sure you can get along with them before you start the process.
  8. Don’t spend hours talking to your lawyer about your emotions. Whilst they can be reassuring this is not what you pay them for and can work out to be very expensive therapy! Find an expert who specialises and who can give you coping techniques that you can take away and as and when you need them.
  9. Find a financial advisor who can help you plan for your future. Even if your finances are simple then it helps to get clarity on what your lifestyle will look like and any changes you need to make. They can also help you to find ways to improve your situation as remember it doesn’t always have to be as it is now. You can change things and improve them over time with the right advice. 
  10. Make sure you take some time out for yourself. You need to give yourself space to grieve the end of your relationship and also to start planning the next phase of your life. Book in some YOU time!