My Quest Hub

The 3 Reasons Why Relationships Breakdown at Christmas

You are here:

Michala Lota is a Relationship Coach and founder of The Happiness Couch and will be offering a range of relationship courses from January 2024.

Michala trained with The Quest Institute as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Master NLP Practitioner in 2010 and has developed these skills to help hundreds of couples to create happy and fulfilling relationships.

The 3 Reasons Why Relationships Breakdown at Christmas

According to a well-known Christmas song, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but is it?

It’s not for the couples who will be calling divorce lawyers or reaching out for relationship help in the New Year.

I’ve been a Relationship Coach for over 13 years, and every January I have seen an increase in the number of enquiries for my help. The issues that couples present with aren’t different to any other time of the year; poor communication, drifting apart, a lack of intimacy, to name a few, so why the increase? Why is the New Year one of the busiest times for divorce lawyers?

The answer is Christmas.

Well, not Christmas per se, but a number of factors present themselves at this ‘most wonderful time of the year’.

In fact, there are 3 factors at play: stress, mindset and growth.


Regardless of whether you are a Christmas person or not, it is fair to say that the run up to the festive season is stressful.

Social activities multiply with additional events at work, community groups, friends and family with whom ‘we must meet up before Christmas’ putting pressure not only on our time, but on our pocket.

Let’s not forget too, the copious amounts of requests from schools requiring costumes, gifts, attendance at a nativity play, carol service, lunch and end of year disco.

DIY stores are a-buzz with people looking to redecorate a room or renovate a house with a Christmas deadline, so the house is picture-perfect for guests and their Instagram feed.

Of course, we can’t ignore those work deadlines either, which we need to reach before the office closes for the holidays so we can switch off for a much-needed break.


Traditions are the heart and soul of Christmas, and these vary in different cultures and families. I call these the ‘have to’s’. 

You have to have a turkey dinner, a Christmas tree, matching pjs, a pile of presents for the kids, watch the Christmas movies, go to a panto and have aunt Flo and uncle Fred over and a house full of family and friends.

There is nothing wrong with any of these; the problem arises between couples when one person has a different mindset or view to the other person. There is a particular mindset that I see in my relationship work that causes the biggest issue here, it’s called sameness vs difference.

A sameness person will want the same traditions ever year, done in exactly the same way. Sameness creates predictability, stability and continuity.

A difference person will want to spice things up a bit with goose instead of turkey, cutting back on the pile of presents, not inviting aunt Flo and uncle Fred over or even going away altogether. Difference fosters a sense of the unknown, adventure and variety.

If you are in a relationship with sameness vs difference running between you, then usually there is flexibility in what you do as people sit somewhere along a spectrum and are very rarely stuck in one preference.

However, when you add stress into the mix the situation changes quickly, and it makes us less flexible and more fixed in our core positions. When life is stressful, we have a lack of understanding and patience for each other and the difference between the two preferences becomes irritating and frustrating.

The situation is enough to draw battle lines, where each person becomes entrenched in their position and takes personal offence to the other person’s suggestions, with other problems and old arguments getting thrown into the mix like a hand grenade. Happy Christmas one and all!


If that wasn’t enough, Christmas is also a time when people reflect on the past year and make plans for the one ahead.


If disagreements, arguments, irritations and frustrations have surfaced during the holiday season then people can reach a threshold point where they have had enough and don’t want another year in a failing relationship.

Either one of these scenarios will have couples searching for help or a divorce lawyer.

So, what can you do?

Removing some of the stress in the run up to Christmas will go a long way to preventing a holiday war zone. We have enough of them in the world at the moment, so don’t let your home become one too.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool in resolving relationship conflicts, so by understanding if you are a sameness or a difference person is a good starting point.

Sitting down with your partner and discussing your plans and working as a team with patience and understanding removes the concept of winners and losers and will help the holidays to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’!

As Christmas is a time of giving, here is my gift to you. Work on your relationship all year round, don’t wait until you have reached a threshold point. In fact, the best time to work on your relationship is when it is in a good place as you are more open to learning, change and growth.

If you decide that next year you want to work on your relationship then you can find a QCH practitioner using the therapist finder.!directory/map/ord=rnd