Lifelines: Helen Weston on the post-Christmas blues

SO CHRISTMAS is over, and now we have to deal with the aftermath. For many of us this will be a positive time; a chance to hit the shops with our gift vouchers, or to take up a new sport in an attempt to burn off unwanted festive girth, all the while safely ensconced in the happy glow from another wonderful Christmas.

For others though, the repercussions of this time of year will be more difficult, clouded by relationship problems and loneliness. For them, Christmas only serves to highlight the things that are missing or wrong in their lives.

If this time of year has any spiritual meaning left in our society, it has to be about hope. To get help, though, we must first allow ourselves to be vulnerable and not slip into the culture of blame. Avoid words like "never" and "always" and try to take responsibility for your own feelings and actions, rather than blaming others. This small but significant step will impact the way you view your problems, and your ability to address them. If it's too hard to make the changes you need to on your own, get help from a relationship counsellor. Hope is their business.


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I'm fed up listening to people complain about family rows over Christmas. They don't realise how lucky they are to have a family. I dread this time of year because it makes me feel so lonely.

You are not alone. There are many people who spend Christmas on their own every year, whether bereaved or homeless, estranged from families or partners, and inevitably it can exacerbate their feelings of loneliness. The best advice I can give for next year is that you plan in advance an activity that involves a group of like-minded others. Organisations like Crisis at Christmas or the City Mission in Glasgow are the kind of thing I am thinking of. Not only will you make some good friends but you will be putting the meaning back into Christmas for yourself and others. You may also find friends and colleagues envy your non-commercial Christmas and reach out to you as a result. I hope so.


Every Christmas we get into the same destructive cycle. My partner goes drinking on Christmas Eve; I stay in and prepare the food. The next day his mother comes and is her usual cantankerous self. He has a hangover, so is bad-tempered, then goes to bed and leaves me to deal with the carnage.

You need to break the pattern. Can you go away for Christmas next year and suggest your mother-in-law visit another member of the family? Alternatively, you could take the children to a show on Christmas Eve and serve the main meal in the evening for a change. This would give your partner time to recover from his hangover. Either way, if the pattern is broken, he might be prepared to look at how the two of you could create a more satisfying tradition together.


I don't think I can go through another Christmas feeling so upset. My husband and I don't talk. We don't go anywhere. We don't even sleep in the same room anymore. I am 41 and it will soon be too late to have a child. Should I leave him?You don't say if the problem between you is a disagreement about having children or a more profound estrangement. Whatever it is, you are right to seek help. Would your husband come with you to a relationship counsellor? Confrontation can be very frightening. Relationship counsellors can help you find a new way of relating.

• Helen Weston is head of professional practice with Relationships Scotland (