Christmas tensions trigger huge rise in New Year calls

We’re expecting a peak in calls in the New Year after relationship tensions come to a head over the Christmas holidays.

In January 2017, we received more than double the number of calls from local people compared with an average month – the total uplift was 108%.

That figure was four times the uplift in Relate calls nationally.

Visits to our website at are also expected to outstrip the national uplift of 47%.

“This rise in people getting in touch is a pattern we see each year,” says local Relate counsellor Diane Whitmore, “but by the time many couples get in touch, their relationship is already at crisis point. For some couples, it is already too late by then. January is also notoriously the most popular month for divorce.

“However, Relate’s research [with more than 5,000 UK adults] has found that one in 10 divorcees say that, with the right support, they would have been able to save their relationship and stay together.”

In addition, 18% say that, with the right support, they would have been able to make the ending of their relationship easier to deal with.

“This is why we encourage people to seek support for their relationship at the earliest possible stage,” says Diane.

“As Christmas approaches, there can be added pressures placed on relationships as family tensions come to a head and the added stress of organising the festivities can ironically result in more arguments.

“Yet there are some simple things you can do to survive this busy period with your relationship in-tact such as delegating tasks and carving out that all-important alone time.

“Many people leave it until after Christmas to contact Relate and, whilst it is never too late to seek support for your relationship, the earlier you do it, the better chance you’ll have of resolving any issues and moving forward.

To help us all through the holidays and out the other side, with our relationships in a good place, we’ve come up with some common triggers for Christmas tensions and how to avoid them resulting in a full-blown row:

Relatives assume you will spend Christmas with them this year

Try to discuss your festive plans well in advance of the big day, considering everyone’s feelings as much as you can, and if you cannot spend Christmas Day with them, find another time during the Christmas period when you can get together. Remember though, it might be impossible to please everyone – try not to worry nor feel guilty about it.

Your partner tends to spend a lot of money on food and gifts

Relate’s research has found that money worries are a top strain on relationships and Christmas can place extra pressure on finances. Talk to your partner beforehand about what you can jointly afford to spend on food and presents. If the arguments persist, consider counselling to help you better communicate about money and understand each other’s attitudes to it.

A family member has too much to drink and makes hurtful comments

As tempting as it may be to react, take a few deep breaths and try to stay calm. Accusing them of having too much to drink could make it worse. Instead, you could say: “I’m not sure Christmas Day is the best time to discuss this. Let’s talk about it another time.” If you feel there are deeper underlying issues you may wish to consider family counselling.

Constant socialising is getting too much

Don’t feel bad about excusing yourself so you can get an hour or so of ‘me’ time. It will mean you are in a better mood when you are with your family, so it is in everyone’s interest. It’s even better if, as a couple, you can ensure you have some quality time together.

You have too many things to do and you‘re feeling irritable

Don’t suffer in silence. Explain to others in the family how you’re feeling. See if you can delegate a few tasks and share the burden.

If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors why not give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

Help for YOU if you’re in debt

One in seven people in debt has hidden the problem from their partner.

And, according to latest figures from the Money Advice Service, 15.8% of adults (aged 18+) in the Bedford borough area and 14% of adults in Central Bedfordshire have a debt problem – that’s 51,630 people. In Luton, 18% of adults are in serious debt, equating to 29,395 people.

Relate’s report, In too deep: an investigation into debt and relationships, sponsored by Provident Financial, reveals strong links between debt and relationship issues. (more…)

When you feel you’ve lost everything…

There’s more than one type of love.

Most of us know of someone who has lost love due to death.

Some of us will feel we’ve lost love at the end of a long relationship – when it’s too late to turn back the hands of time to fix.

Many of us will have loved and had our love rejected.

Then there’s love for children, or pets, or a favourite place… (more…)

When we’re our own worst enemies

Some couples set themselves on a route to relationship break-up – by repeating the same old bad habits time and again.

Here are some of them:

Not listening to what is being said

Communication is the most important part of a relationship. By paying closer attention to how you’re communicating with your partner you can help stop small disagreements turning into bigger problems. (more…)

What you can do if your partner is drinking too much

Feeling your partner drinks too much can create tension and upset in your relationship.

You may feel your partner is ‘being taken away from you’. Perhaps you resent the amount of time they spend out drinking – and feel they’re a completely different person when they’ve been drinking.

Maybe you’re unsure how to broach the topic – or maybe you have, and it’s not gone how you would like. Maybe they’ve accused you of nagging, or they’ve disagreed that there’s a problem at all.

For many couples, this type of issue can bubble beneath the surface for years before becoming a big point of contention.

What can I do?  (more…)

Money: what’s your emotional relationship with it?

Some people are very careful about money – unwilling to spend on anything unless they absolutely have to and squirrelling away the rest.

Some people love to spend money, and will happily spend every last penny – even when they know they should slow down and keep some in reserve.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle, occasionally spending lots or treating ourselves, sometimes saving.

How do we develop these different relationships with money? (more…)

HOW WE SHOULD THINK about mental health at work

‘The correct way to view mental health is that we all have it and we fluctuate between thriving, struggling and being ill and possibly off work. People with poor mental health including common mental health problems and severe mental illness can be in any of these groups. An individual can have a serious mental health problem but – with the right support – can still be thriving at work.’ – the Government’s Thriving at Work report. Check out how Relate can help in the workplace here.


The Facts on Mental Health at Work

The Vision on Mental Health at Work


THE VISION on mental health at work for all employers

In 10 years’ time all companies, whatever their size, will be:

  • Equipped with awareness and tools to not only address but prevent mental ill-health caused or worsened by work.
  • Equipped to support individuals with a mental health condition to thrive.
  • Aware of how to get access to timely help to reduce sickness absence caused by mental ill-health.

That’s the vision of a Government Thriving at Work report aimed at dramatically reducing the proportion of people with a long-term mental health condition who leave employment each year.

Check out how Relate can help in the workplace here.


The Facts on Mental Health at Work

How We Should Think about Mental Health at Work

THE FACTS on mental health at work

  • More people than ever before are at work with mental health conditions. 15% have symptoms of an existing mental health condition.
  • 300,000 employees with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year – it’s a much higher rate than for those with physical health conditions.
  • The annual cost to employers is between £33 billion and £42 billion.
  • More than half of the cost comes from ‘presenteeism’ – when individuals are less productive because of poor mental health in work plus extra costs from sickness absence and staff turnover.
  • The cost of poor mental health to Government is between £24 billion and £27 billion. This includes costs in providing benefits, falls in tax revenue and costs to the NHS.
  • The cost of poor mental health to the economy as a whole from lost output is between £74 billion and £99 billion per year.

Facts are from the Government’s Thriving at Work report. Check out how Relate can help in the workplace here.


The Vision on Mental Health at Work

How We Should Think about Mental Health at Work