More couples breaking up over Christmas than ever before Relationship Expert Rachel MacLynn creates 'Christmas Survival Guide for Loved Ones'

Take these steps to a happy family Christmas!

Take these steps to a happy family Christmas!

The festive season sees more relationships break down than at any other time of the year, with twice as many couples beginning divorce proceedings in the first week of January.

"Christmas should be a happy time full of love and laughter" says Rachel MacLynn Chartered Psychologist, relationship expert and founder of Vida Matchmaking Consultancy, a cosmopolitan matchmaking agency that specialises in finding life partners for exceptional men and women. "But for many, it can be a very miserable time.

"As the year draws to an end, people tend to reflect on what they have and what they want for the following year - this includes looking at their relationship and wondering if they would prefer to clear the space in their lives for something new. Add huge expectations, tight budgets and the strain of spending too much, or too little, time with your partner - and a relationship can really take its toll."

Family commitments, present-buying, Christmas parties fuelled with alcohol and money-worries cause huge amounts of stress.

Rachel continues, "When normal routines are put on hold, couples tend to take their stress out on each other which puts a further strain on relationships. Similarly the expectation of receiving a good present and not getting one can be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

It needn't be all doom and gloom however, and there are ways to survive, and enjoy, Christmas with your other half. To help make this a reality, Rachel has devised a 'Christmas Survival Guide for Loved Ones' with a series of fool-proof tips to see couples on the brink through the festivities:


Christmas Relationship Do's:

1. DO - Plan. Sit down with your partner and write up a list of everything that needs to be done - from buying presents for the kids, to ordering the turkey. Assign tasks to each other and make sure you stick to them.

2. DO - Speak positively and smile! Positive language generates positive feelings, which makes you and the people around you feel happy. Find something to laugh about - laughter bonds people.

3. DO - Reflect with your partner on all the great things that have happened this year. Moving house, getting a promotion, or losing weight - they are all achievements towards life goals and should be acknowledged and celebrated.

4. DO - Say I love you, it helps.

5. DO - Accept that Christmas and relationships are never perfect. Lower your expectations a notch, and accept that most of the time, it's the effort that counts.

6. DO - Put some thought into gift giving. The joy of receiving a gift is more powerful when there is sentiment behind it.

7. DO - take some time to yourself. Go for a walk or have a hot bath. You need time to recharge your batteries and stay relaxed.

8. DO - make an effort with the in-laws. Aunt Bettie might drive you crazy but making an effort will make your partner feel at ease.

9. DO - offer to help. If you see your partner is stressed, suggest you take on some more tasks. Be proactive!

10. DO - Remember that Christmas is about sharing and making other people happy. If you want to enjoy it, make this time special for your partner, family and kids. This in turn will make you happy.

Christmas Relationship Don'ts:

1. DON'T - Forget to spend quality time and moments together, especially when your house is full of relatives. Take some time out and let relatives look after the kids while you and your partner go for a walk in the park.

2. DON'T - Complain about how much everything costs. Christmas is expensive but it creates lasting happy memories so spoil yourselves a bit. Agree to a budget and stick to it.

3. DON'T - Forget that human contact can say everything, whether holding hands or cuddling on the sofa. Touching is crucial.

4. DON'T - Let issues build up. All the tasks associated with Christmas clutter the mind, so if you are feeling neglected, ask your partner for a hug and calmly explain how you feel. Don't blow up in a tantrum or storm off in a sulk.

5. DON'T - Carry the weight of Christmas on your shoulders, if you feel like you are doing too much - cooking, present wrapping etc. Divvy up tasks and encourage your partner to take some responsibility.

6. DON'T - Spend Christmas laid out horizontal on the sofa, allowing everyone else to look after you. Christmas is a team effort, so make sure you chip in.

7. DON'T - Assume someone else is going to do it. Lack of communication is a top cause of arguments at Christmas.

8. DON'T - Leave everything to the last minute. Panic at Christmas is never fun.

9. DON'T - Start a deep debate when you have been drinking. It will only lead to tears and unnecessary arguments.

10. DON'T - bring up past problems. Regurgitating previous relationship issues at Christmas is likely to taint memories of the entire festive period.

"Relationships take hard work and compromise and Christmas is no exception" Rachel concludes. "While the end of the year is a time to reflect, it's also a time to appreciate and cherish what you have. I can't think of a better gift than that."

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