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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Keep your relationship cool this Yule


There is no escaping Christmas now. As I said last week, the Christmas tress/lights/ads/CDs/TV shows have well and truly been unwrapped by Great Britain and are here to stay – for the next few weeks at least.

In previous years, Woolley & Co has tended to give advice and pointers to people about how to deal with the extra pressures this time of years brings, hopefully with the aim of ensuring a few people think twice before engaging a divorce lawyer in early January. As we all now know, the first and second weeks in January are among the busiest on the year for divorce lawyers as stressed partners, pushed to the edge by family visits and other festive distractions, decide enough is enough.

The message is always focused around not making life-changing decisions at a stressful time of year. I am delighted to say that this year there is another campaign running along similar, perhaps much more powerful lines, aimed at helping to maintain family harmony. I mentioned the Association of Anger Management in a blog a couple of months ago. The work they do helps people deal with feelings of anger – not all of which erupt in violence against a partner but all of which can cause real problems in their lives. Last week they launched their Stay Cool This Yule campaign as part of Anger Awareness Week. The focus of the week was to raise awareness of anger and how it is expressed in our lives.

The statistics speak for themselves. More than half of Britons have family disagreements at Christmas, a quarter of adults say their relationships with their partners come under pressure around this time of year, calls to charity Relate go up 59% over Christmas while research, I am told, suggests the average family has its first argument at 9.58am on Christmas morning. The repercussions can be slow and simmering or explode in spectacular fashion. Either way, they can be long-lasting.

The organisation has come up with a list of pre-Christmas mental preparations that couples can do to safeguard their relationship. The top festive tips include:

  • Don’t wind yourself up 
  • Plan ahead and think of the big picture 
  • Share responsibility for the day, from buying and wrapping presents to cooking the dinner 
  • Agree family arrangements in advance.

On the day, the usual advice remains true, such as not drinking too much, steering clear of controversial issues and looking for the positives in family visits – however hard that may seem.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


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As the director of the Birmingham clinic of the British Association of Anger Management, I can of course concur with Andrew that there are some really useful ways to avoid the stresses of Christmas to be found in our Keep Your Cool this Yule kit.  However, I wanted to add that we often think of anger as an aggressive emotion.  However there is plenty of evidence that when anger is suppressed, it often becomes depression. 
In addition, our recent surveys of visitors to our website shows that many people are suffering from the verbal and physical abuse of partners and then similarly abusing in reply.  As a culture, we have very few models of healthy conflict resolution, so we are passing on from generation to generation an overly aggressive or overly passive response to feeling anger.
We have courses available across the UK for people who would like to learn new healthy ways to express their anger, and resolve disputes before they break up a marriage or a home. You can find lots of ideas for improving your relationships at  I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year….

By Paula Backen on Wednesday December 8, 2010

I think this is great advice. There is so much pressure in the holidays to all get on and be nice to each other and for some it is easy to blow their top - let things come to a head. When you are not used to being around your partner - look for ways of still getting what you need emtionally and practically for yourself. It could be as simple as saying to the other one - I’d like to go for a walk on my own or to the gym. ...

By Naomi on Wednesday December 8, 2010

Many thanks, both, for your comments! I know our team all try to help clients obtain help from BAAM when possible—as they believe in it. Personally, I tend to view anger as one emotion of many but it’s what you do with it that matters.
Naomi: thanks too. Indeed sometimes it can be just something practical and simple such as getting some time alone….

By Andrew Woolley on Monday December 13, 2010

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