Workplace dilemmas: Help! I’m dreading spending Christmas with my husband

Each month, our agony uncle responds to your concerns. This time: what to do if the Christmas break brings horror, not cheer

Dear Tim,

Everyone in my office is getting really excited about Christmas. There’s tinsel hanging from the partitions, a Christmas tree in the staff kitchen and Christmas music blaring from the radio. There’s a palpable air of anticipation as people discuss their Christmas plans, talking about the fun they’ll have with family and friends and sharing ideas for Christmas recipes or traditions.

    He moans about work, about his friends, and about all of us. It’s really tiring...  

Not for me, though. I’m afraid I’m dreading Christmas and would happily stay at work for the duration, if only they weren’t closing the office.

It’s funny, really. When my boss sent an email saying they were closing down from Christmas Eve all the way through to 2 January, a cheer went up from the workforce. But I just felt even more anxious about the coming festivities. I was banking on escaping to work for a break on the days in between Christmas and New Year.

The problem is my husband. He’s not violent or abusive in any way, so please don’t get the wrong idea. But I’ve come to realise that he’s an extremely selfish person. He rarely thinks of other people, including our children and especially not me. Which means that, so far as he’s concerned, Christmas is all about what he wants to do.

That’s well and good. I’ve long come to terms with the fact that all the Christmas prep falls to me, including choosing, buying and wrapping presents for the kids and wider family members, sorting out what we’re going to eat when and making sure the house looks festive.

But there’s a new dimension nowadays, and that’s his incessant whingeing. He moans about work, about his friends, and about all of us. It’s really tiring and I’m not sure I can cope with pretty much two whole weeks of it.

What do I do? We’ll spend some of the time with other people, but I know he’ll be just as bad in their company. I can’t find words to tell you how much I’m dreading it all. Can you help?

Tim says:

It’s probably small comfort to hear that you’re by no means alone in feeling this way. According to Relate, the number of people making contact for relationship advice and counselling spikes by more than a third after the Christmas holidays.

    If there’s something deeply wrong in your relationship, you’re going to need to confront it.  

It is hardly a surprise that relationships are tested during the festive season. As you’ve rightly said, you spend more time in each other’s company than at any other time of the year, and the pressure is usually intense. There’s entertaining to plan, presents to sort, food and drink to buy.

Then you have the added stress of hanging out with people who you may not normally choose to see – extended family, long lost friends. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Add into the mix an inability to escape to the office for a bit of peace and the potential impact of alcohol on your judgment and it’s easy to see why there’s no shortage of advice online about surviving the big day.

For what it’s worth, my advice is straightforward. If there’s something deeply wrong in your relationship, you’re going to need to confront it. The sort of anxiety that’s eating away at you in the run-up to Christmas is just a magnified version of what you must be feeling all the time. And it’s not healthy to be using work as a form of displacement activity.

I’d recommend taking your feelings seriously. At some point, you and your husband need a full and frank discussion about your relationship. Do you want things to improve? If so, seek relationship counselling sooner rather than later, before it’s too late.

If you feel you’re already beyond that, then you probably need to think about separating. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but a break from one another may be the only way for you to get back on an even keel.

I wouldn’t advise tackling this issue the week before Christmas. It’s likely to prompt some difficult conversations and could well put even further strain on your celebrations. And if you have kids, you’ll clearly want to protect them from damaging memories associated with this time of year.

But plan to have the conversation in the New Year. Try to be open and honest with your husband about how you’re feeling and what you want to happen next. Use the expert advice of Relate to help you.

It’s not going to be easy and there will be some hard times ahead. But the thought of taking positive action after Christmas, either to save your marriage or to make a clean break, maybe just what you need to get you through the fortnight ahead.

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 19 December 2019

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Workplace dilemmas: I just can’t help falling in love

You may also enjoy: Mental Health in the workplace for employers and employees

Jobs currently available

New job
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £28,000 per annum
Location: Kelvedon
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909686
About the role

Are you an experienced Designer looking for your next opportunity?

Are you proficient on a MAC?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Designer on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Kelvedon.

Your duties will include:

  • Producing good, eye-catching design concepts
  • Striving for creative output that is to the highest standards in execution and application
  • Upholding best practice ideas and aiming to consistently deliver the best design output
  • Good problem-solving and contribution towards concept idea generation
  • Proficient Mac operating and creative software skills
  • Strong design and visualisation ability
  • Contributing to creative team development with inspiration, insight and design trends found in the wider creative industry
  • Good communication skills and able to articulate work and ideas to the Creative and Client Services teams
  • Supporting the delivery of pitches and presentations
  • Well-rounded contribution to all design projects

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.30.

If you are interested then apply today!

Read more
New job
Small Plant Engineer / Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £20,000 - £26,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909734
About the role

Just Recruitment is seeking a Small Plant Maintenance Engineer to join a company on the outskirts of Halstead, Essex.

  • Due to the company’s location, you must be able to drive to be considered for this position.
  • Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am-4.30pm - Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.
  • Working as part of a maintenance team, primarily in the workshop, to ensure all site equipment (handheld and small tools) remain serviceable, safe and functioning correctly. (Knowledge and experience of two-stroke engines will be a distinct advantage as would welding/fabricating experience.)
  • Assisting with preventative and reactive maintenance when required on all machinery and production-related equipment.
  • Carrying out other tasks and duties as reasonably directed by your Foreman and Line Manager.

Key skills and experience required:

  • Experienced mechanic with a good all-round knowledge of mechanical and electrical principles.

The company will consider a graduate/college leaver with a genuine interest in Mechanics / Engineering, as they can offer in-house training and guidance.

A competitive salary is on offer with a wide range of additional benefits.

Performance-based yearly bonus scheme, with 50% paid in December and 50% in March.

23 days paid holiday plus the statutory Bank holidays.

Health insurance policy that contributes towards dentist/optician costs, physiotherapy etc. Recently-refurbished canteen serving subsidised healthy meals produced by our experienced chef.

Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am–4.30pm – Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.

Read more
New job
Mechanical, Electrical & Trim (MET) Technician
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909711
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an experienced Mechanical, Electrical and Trim (MET) Technician on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Sudbury.

You will be keen to get involved with all aspects of the Bodyshop.


  • To strip and fit damaged panels, interior trim and mechanical/electrical parts
  • To perform all work assigned in a timely manner, economically and to company and manufacturers standards
  • Assess faults
  • Job cards and assessment reports
  • Accessing and removing mechanical and electrical components
  • Removing and fitting non-structural body panels
  • Removing and re-installing mechanical and electrical systems
  • Vehicle valeting
  • To operate equipment and carry out all duties in a safe manner
  • To maintain equipment, protective clothing and work areas in a clean, tidy and safe condition
  • To maintain a high level of competence for the work to be undertaken by undergoing on-site training, attending courses at suppliers and manufacturers and reading technical bulletins as required


  • ATA or NVQ is essential

Personal qualities:

  • Reliable friendly and willing to continue gaining training to keep up with the latest technology
Read more
New job
Semi-Experienced Estimator
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909869
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Semi-Experienced Estimator on behalf of a company based in Earls Colne, Essex.

Your main responsibilities:

  • To contact the clients, architects and engineers either by phone or email to obtain accurate information about their precast concrete flooring and/or stair requirement.
  • To produce accurate quotations that reflect the clients’ requirements.
  • To liaise with colleagues within the Sales and Estimating department regarding the project in order to increase the likelihood of securing the project.

Candidate requirements:

  • 1-2 years of experience within an Estimator position essential.
  • A good understanding of the Construction industry.
  • Additional knowledge of software such as Bluebeam and CAD software such as Autodesk is desirable although full training can be provided if necessary.
  • Outstanding time management skills with the ability to prioritise accordingly.
  • A confident and professional telephone manner is essential.

Working Monday - Friday, 40 hour week.

Free parking is available.

23 days annual leave plus bank holidays.

Read more
New job
HR Administrator - FTC
Sector: Recruitment and HR
Salary: £20,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 909861
About the role

Are you an experienced HR Administrator looking for your next role?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an HR Administrator to join a company on a part-time basis (20-25 hours per week) to cover maternity.

Your duties will include:

  • Assist with the recruitment process, including advertising job vacancies and arranging candidate interviews.
  • Draft and send offer letters and contracts (new starter induction packs).
  • Provide the first point of contact and excellent customer service.
  • Resolve absence, holiday queries and first level benefits queries.
  • Process leaver information ensuring all relevant information is prepared, processed and issued on time.
  • Assist/distribute company announcements and ensure communication across the group.
  • Manage department e-mail inbox.
  • Assist with payroll queries.
  • Maintain and establish accurate e-filing and storage systems in line with GDPR legislation.
  • Respond to specific requests for information from internal and external clients at all levels.
  • Managing employee data such as maintain the staff database to include the input of new starters, leavers, holidays and sickness records, probation reviews.
  • Managing internal employee recognition scheme.
  • Attend and participate in the Staff and Works Committee meetings.
  • Organise employee training.
  • Maintain Temporary worker onboarding process.
  • Review company Suggestion Boxes.
  • Maintain organisational charts.
  • Assist the HR Manager with other duties in line with candidate’s skills and experience.

You will have experience in working with confidential information and in an HR environment, as well as have good analytical skills.

This is a part-time, contract position working 20-25 hours per week.

Interested? Apply today!

Read more