QMy marriage broke down over Christmas. The stress of having my husband’s elderly parents to stay coupled with the demands of our young children meant we did nothing but snipe at each other.

The constant fear of passing on Covid — we tested daily — didn’t help. Boxing Day saw tensions escalate to the point where he declared he was ready for a divorce.

We haven’t spoken since. I’m stressed about the future. Is there a way to get ahead of the curve?

It is wonderful to get together for Christmas, and it can prove challenging. You have seen that more family time doesn’t always mean better.

An anonymous woman asked Clare Bailey for advice after her marriage reached breaking point over Christmas (file image)

Clare Bailey received a confidential request from an anonymous client after her marital problems became unbearable over Christmas.

Everyone gets emotional sometimes and can say horrible things. This is one such time. It’s no surprise that divorce inquires spike early in January.

Your husband’s sudden demand to split sounds as if it came out of the blue and, unless there is someone else involved, there may still be a chance to patch things up. Constant arguing can be detrimental for you as well as your children.

What can we do together to make things better? First, you need to recognise what’s gone wrong.

Professor John Gottman, who runs the Love Lab at Washington University, in the U.S., where he has been studying couples for many years, has identified four things which often lead to divorce — what he calls The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

1. SHOWCASE CONTEMPT. This can be very damaging. It can sweep into relationships like a cold drip and has been shown to be the primary predictor of divorce.


Clare (pictured) shared Professor Gottman’s tips to rebuild a healthy relationship - including showing your admiration and taking an interest in your partner's world

Clare (pictured) shared Professor Gottman’s tips to rebuild a healthy relationship – including showing your admiration and taking an interest in your partner’s world 

3. DEFENSIVENESS. It is not a good idea to blame or get angry at someone else.


Now you know what to avoid, here are Professor Gottman’s tips to rebuild a healthy relationship:

You might wonder if alcohol can affect the effectiveness of vaccines, as there are many vaccination clinics that will be open during the New Year. Although little research has been done on alcohol’s impact on immunity, it is safe to say that moderate drinking will not significantly affect effectiveness. Heavy drinking might, though, not least because it will disrupt your sleep and a good night’s rest is helpful for your immune system. Some doctors advise against drinking for two days prior to and two weeks after. However, the most important thing is to have your jab. 


Your admiration is a sign of your appreciation Celebrate your partner’s successes and commiserate with their failures.


Regularly we make ‘bids’ for our partner’s attention, such as when you find something amusing in the newspaper and want to share it. How they respond is important — turning to you with interest is good.


Take an interest in your partner’s world. Know each other’s goals, worries and hopes.


It is easy to overlook this fact in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds family life.


Don’t let problems fester.

It is important to decide if you want to try it. There is a chance that you can heal the division if you both do. See relate.org.uk to get more help.

The healing power of a cold shower 

I usually change the temperature of my water to cold every day for at least 60 seconds. The cold water makes my stomach churn and then I feel very tingly. However, afterward I feel so energised.

When it comes to cold water immersion, however, I’m a lightweight. Studies suggest that it might reduce muscle soreness. Andy Murray, tennis star is well-known for his love of ice baths.

However, cold water may affect your circulation system. Consult with a doctor if you are concerned. As for me, I look forward to plunging into the sea — in summer!

Clare can be reached at drclarebailey@dailymail.co.uk Daily Mail Northcliffe House 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT .