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Christmas stress and New Year breakups: advice by Rita on BBC Radio Berkshire

LGFL's Managing Director Rita Gupta was live on BBC Radio Berkshire just before new ear talking about the pressure of the festive season on families.

Hear her interview at the BBC Sounds website.

Rita’s interview starts 2hrs 11mins 49 seconds in.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0b7xd0t

Or read on for the transcript:

 

Babs Michel (BBC Radio Berkshire)

Now, Christmas and the festive season is a lot of fun, right? However, it can be a bit stressy, can't it? Families, in-laws, whatever. You put such big, high expectations on everything, you want it to be perfect. And then you turn on the telly and all the adverts are telling you've got to decorate your house from top to bottom, you need a new sofa and a new kitchen to have a great Christmas. There's so much pressure. You see what I mean? And then often, if you don't live up to your own often too high expectations, then you'll feel frustrated.

And you might confuse all of that with "I need to finish my relationship, I need a divorce". Because you are tired because of all of your expectations. Because we're being manipulated left, right and centre by society, I think.

And I thought it'd be a really good idea to speak to Rita Gupta. Now, Rita is a family lawyer and managing director of LG Family Lawyers, based here in Reading. Hello, Rita.

Rita Gupta

Hello. How are you?

Babs

I'm all right, Rita, because I didn't have any family round. It was just me and my boyfriend, John. So, we just pleased ourselves, which is lovely. Now don't get me wrong, in case my mum is listening, mum it's nothing against you. My mum lives in Kent, so it's not like we are in the same town or anything. But when it's just you and your other half, and you're just pleasing yourself, you can't really go wrong with that. However, would I be right in thinking, Rita, that maybe people get confused about the stresses and strains of this time of year. And actually, it's too much. And it could just be it's this time of year, it doesn't mean you need a divorce.

Rita

Absolutely. I think for many people that is the case. But I think for a lot of people they're going into this Christmas with it being the last Christmas to salvage a relationship. There's already fractures in that relationship, there's already issues there. So, if you add that to the high expectations that you were talking about earlier, those social media images where everybody's got the perfect Christmas, everyone's having more fun than you, everyone's happier than you, everyone's relationship is better than yours. For those relationships, then actually the pressures of Christmas can just actually make it too much.

Babs

I hate all of that because it's such rubbish as well.

Rita

Absolutely.

Babs

Yeah, but it can play tricks on your mind, and you can feel that you haven't had a great Christmas, or your Christmas wasn't good enough. Or look at all of these people that are so much happier than we are. They're not. They're not.

Rita

I know. I mean, as a family lawyer, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. So, we're not fooled by that. But unfortunately, a lot of people, if you look at the Instagram pictures and the social media and everything, it's all picture perfect. And I think, as I say, if you've already got factors in your relationship, then that's really difficult.

There's also things such as, you've touched on extended families. A lot of relationships have issues when they perceive that their partner is siding with their family against them. They've got critical in-laws, and they're feeling as though they're not being supported. Similarly, a partner may feel that they're divided between their family and their partner. These family dynamics can cause lots of issues.

And if you think about it, last year everyone was in lockdown. This year there's been a lot of making up, whereby you've mingled with those family members that you perhaps haven't seen for a couple of years.

Babs

What would your advice be then, Rita? I'm thinking, if somebody is in this position, maybe the lockdown has put an immense amount of pressure on your relationship. There are fractures in it, they were there before Christmas. You've spent a whole load of time together now because you're not working, and it's got even worse. What is the next step, would you say? If you think it's unsalvageable, let's say?

Rita

I think I'm going to separate my advice between two scenarios. I think if it's an abuse scenario, and I'm talking about any form of abuse, physical, coercive control, emotional, psychological. In those scenarios you need to seek help and take immediate action. You need to call the police and they will direct you to the relevant organisations that can support you.

On our own website and social media we did share, before Christmas, a lot of helpline numbers on an information sheet. It's really important that you get yourself, and any children if they're there, into a place of safety. So, that's a very different scenario.

Babs

Okay.

Rita

I think, if it's a, I'll say, general relationship breakdown, but I don't mean that flippantly.

Babs

No, of course not.

Rita

For those people I think you need to step back and take a deep breath and think before you take any further action. I think if there are children in the household who are still potentially off until the 4th and 5th of January, I'd really advise people to put their children first and think about what they would be exposed to in the household at this period if there's conflict. It's very emotionally damaging for children to see parental conflict.

Rita

So I'd say take a step back, and I'd also say take some advice in the new year. Most family law firms will open on the 4th of January. They will offer a fixed-fee consultation. Go and seek advice. Don't go on the online forums or read Google does family law, because family law is very case specific. So you need to know what your rights are, and what are the ramifications, for example, of moving out of the house, sometimes in anger. So I'd say step back, think about it, take advice in the new year. And also, there is a chance you could explore marriage counselling through an organisation such as Relate.

Babs

Can I just say, a few years ago now, quite a long time ago, but I did use Relate, and it really made a difference. I have to say I never explored the idea of counselling before for my relationship, mine and John's relationship. But we used Relate. It was the best thing we could have done. Because at that point I thought there was no way back. I thought we were done.

Rita

No, absolutely. Even if there is a little bit of hope, particularly if there are children, I think you should try and explore it. There's also private relationship counsellors as well. But that's the people who perhaps haven't gone into the Christmas period already in a very difficult situation. For those people I would say take advice before you do anything first. Particularly moving out of the house. That could be very traumatic for your children, to see a parent move out the house over the Christmas period.

Babs

Can we put to bed Divorce Day? It's a load of nonsense, isn't it?

Rita

For me, definitely. And I think every family lawyer would say there is not a day whereby the phone is ringing off the hook and everybody wants a divorce. It's a media sensation. And the family organisation that I'm part of, called Resolution, are adamant that it doesn't exist, as most family lawyers are. And it's not a healthy message to promote to anybody, that there is a day in January whereby everybody decides to get divorced.

Babs

Oh, it's ridiculous. Rita, if somebody's listening now, and they might be in this position, they're a little bit worried, they want some advice or some help. Is there somewhere that they can go and do a little bit of reading quietly, just to help them formulate any decision they may or may not be making in the future?

Rita

Absolutely. The Resolution website is absolutely great. There's some information on that. There's the Law Society website. There's a website called CAFCASS, which is if you've got children. There's some information on that. And obviously, not giving a plug, but my own website and lots of other family law websites. I would persuade people to avoid the online forums whereby perhaps people have had a particular experience, because that might not necessarily apply to their case.

Babs

Rita Gupta, it's really good to talk to you. Managing Director of LG Family Lawyers, based in Reading. Thank you, Rita.

Rita

Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

 

 

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