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Christmas, men and women

For Boxing Day, we present something from the archives: an article from way back in 2009 in which Marilyn pondered the differences between the typical male and female approaches to Christmas…

Yesterday morning my husband was reading the papers over a breakfast cup of coffee. He looked out into the garden. Our two giant Briard dogs were frolicking together, getting completely covered in snow. A little red robin was hopping about on the branch of a snow covered fir tree. Two wood pigeons landed together on an almost frozen bird bath for a drink. With the snow covering the garden, the trees and the bushes, the scene couldn’t have been any more Christmassy.

“Better do all my jobs today if the weather is going to get even worse”, my husband sighed. And I started to laugh.

My husband wasn’t thinking about Winter Wonderland. He was thinking about practical matters, like how to get to the supermarket on icy roads, so that we don’t starve watching TV this weekend.

And he’s definitely not alone.

One of my clients, a well known company lawyer, has his own theory about Christmas. He believes it is two unnecessary weeks off work, spent living “out of synch” with normality. He believes that Christmas is a “woman thing”

Last year I wrote at length about how the tensions created at Christmas can lead to divorce, after our family law firm experienced a surge in enquiries from overworked women in the weeks leading up to the festivities:

“They described the tidying that had to be fitted around entertaining, the exhaustion and the never-ending rounds of relations and friends for at least a week afterwards. More than one said that she had do all this work herself – and dreaded it. None of them would put themselves through it at all if their children were older.

“Listening to these tales of drudgery I wonder, have women really attained equality?  I doubt it. It seems to me that for women, Christmas continues to be an exhausting, miserable slog for women who take on the chores year in, year out because they feel that they must. It appears to be a matter of tradition, rather than choice.

“I can’t help concluding that it isn’t Christmas that causes a divorce. It’s the thought of it.”  (Christmas and Divorce: What Women Want)

However my male client has a different take on this situation. He argues that if there is pressure placed on a marriage as a result of Christmas, he says, it is because women do it to themselves!

He thinks that women drive themselves and others – particularly men – bonkers with the festive preparations. Like my female clients last year, he points to the shopping, the presents, the cooking, the festive days themselves, the families, the children and all the clearing up afterwards. He also points out that all the advertising, marketing and tugging upon heart strings is aimed squarely at women. He sees men as reluctant and resigned, taking the easy way out. Yes, they do their bit, but usually at the last minute and because they have to.

My client intends to ignore Christmas this year. He is convinced that if men had their way, it wouldn’t exist at all. He asks, “Why do we have Father Christmas? It should be Mother Christmas”.

Is he right? Is Christmas “a woman thing” and if so, why haven’t all we clever women spotted that we are being “had” before now? I have my own thoughts about this, but would be interested to know what you think…

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    As the number of civil partnerships and same-sex marriages increases I wonder if they too will bring extra work to the family lawyers in January?

    I have long believed that the January Rush is the consequence of couples who could just about get by as long as they were not thrown on each others’ company too much having to spend several days with each other. Add the presence of the in-laws and you can see why some of them decide that that’s it, they want out!

  2. JamesB says:

    I had the holiday due so took it and brought the presents.

    We did the Xmas dinner together.

    I do agree where 2 are working, plus young children and exes and step children and children from previous relationships and house being not perfect for it can be hard have got ill a bit actually.

  3. Luke says:

    Yes, he is largely correct, in my experience women are looking to impress OTHER WOMEN with their Christmas efforts.
    Christmas is justified because it can be a magical time for children – there can be nice moments for all as well, but generally for straight men it is largely a ball-ache that has to be endured.
    For instance, if it was solely up to men then Christmas cards would stop overnight. 🙂

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