MONEY worries and a “Hollywood ideal” of relationships are among the reasons counselling service Relate expects a spike in calls in the new year.
Some couples and families will have had a really difficult time over the festive period, with so much expectation to have a great Christmas, and for some people issues “add up and become this big pressure cooker that just explodes”.
Calls to Relate’s national phone line rose by 53% on the first Monday of January 2014 compared with the first Monday of December 2013, with appointment bookings increasing by 86%.
Priscilla Sim, a relationships counsellor at Relate, said January is “a time of reflection” which many see as an opportunity for a new start.
“People are thinking about their lives, their relationships, and they kind of want to go into the new year fresh and they don’t want to bring in all the burdens of the past year and the past few years if the relationship hasn’t been going that well.
“So I think we see quite a high volume of calls in January due to that. You have three choices: You either stay as things are, you leave the relationship or you try and change. And a lot of people do opt to try and change and work things out,” she said.
Ms Sim said that along with other occasions such as Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, Christmas can bring a lot of expectation and pressure.
“People want to have this great family time and sometimes it’s just not like that. So it can be quite difficult, with particularly money worries.
“That’s like the highest concern at the moment for people that have been surveyed in Relate surveys. I think 40% of people are worried about money.
Ms Sim said she believes the “Hollywood ideal” of having a perfect relationship, a perfect family, and a perfect Christmas, is “really damaging” as it causes people to question their own situations.
“I think in society, in glossy magazines, and on TV, we’re expected to have this Hollywood ideal of relationships. So when they have an argument it’s the end of the world, when actually research shows that arguments are healthy.
“Obviously if you’re arguing all the time that’s difficult, but I think the ratio is one in five. If you’re having five positive interactions to one difficult interaction you’ve got a healthy relationship. It’s important to have arguments because that shows that you’re still two individual people,” she said.
Ms Sim said sometimes people think that they “should be having sex all the time”, adding: “Unfortunately, sometimes we’re just too busy, we’re just tired, it does fall off the agenda. But that doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed.”