Tips For Surviving Christmas In An Unhappy Marriage

Sometimes, for a myriad of reasons, people end up staying in an unhappy marriage and  trying to make the best of it. Often, the way of coping with a difficult personal situation is to escape to the office or to immerse themselves in work and spend as much time out of the house with friends and family as possible. So, what happens at Christmas when you can’t go to work (even in the home office), you don’t have the excuse of work and friends and family aren’t around as much?

Often, people turn to drink to try and cope. How many times have you thought, “this is too much, I don’t want to be here, I’m desperately unhappy” and you pour yourself another drink…and another….and another…

Research from Drinkaware in 2019 showed that men were likely to have 6 drinks on Christmas Day and women 4 ½ drinks but as doctors know all too well, people always underestimate what they drink. The reality is that people drink far more than that at Christmas and particularly when they are unhappy.

Drinking makes us more confident and less coherent – which when stuck at home with someone you don’t want to be with, is a very bad combination. It often leads to arguments and things can quickly escalate. Sadly, the statistics show that there are more incidents of domestic abuse at Christmas than at any other time of the year. In 2020, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Christmas period reached record highs for incidents of domestic abuse.

This year, if you are in an unhappy marriage, think and plan ahead:

  1. Buy non-alcoholic drinks as well as your usual tipple. The range of non-alcoholic drinks, which can be topped with up with your usual mixer, is larger than it ever was and they taste really good!
  2. Limit the amount you drink. Have one alcoholic drink followed by a non-alcoholic drink.
  3. If you feel yourself reaching for another drink because of the situation you are in, and you know you have already had too many, put your coat on and go for a walk.
  4. Can you spend part of Christmas day with friends or family? You don’t have to spend the entire day with your spouse – perhaps arrange tea or dinner with someone? Or a walk in the park? Or facetime a friend from a private space.
  5. Buy a good book and take yourself out of the room and have some quiet time on your own.
  6. Have you thought about volunteering in a soup kitchen or hospice on Christmas Day itself? There are always people worse off than you.

If things do escalate at home, and you find yourself in physical danger because your spouse has been drinking and/or things escalate, leave. Remember that even on Christmas Day, there are people who can help:

  • 0808 2000 247 is the freephone 24-hour national helpline for Refuge (for women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse).
  • Mankind has a telephone advice line for men who suffer domestic abuse although this is not open on public holidays (01823 334 244).
  • And remember you can always call 999.

Our two blogs (linked below) provide additional tips and resources should you need to access help urgently.

Director Elizabeth Hicks specialises in all areas of family law and has particular expertise in divorce, contested financial remedy cases and asset protection, often involving international aspects. Elizabeth also advises on complicated private Children Act cases and on Pre and Post Marital Agreements. She is an experienced collaborative lawyer. Elizabeth is ranked as a leading family lawyer by all of the key legal directories.

For more information on how Family Law in Partnership can help you if you are faced with domestic abuse, please visit our website page Abuse in Relationships.