Parents are at their most stressed then because they feel exhausted and are likely to be juggling the dinner preparation , entertaining visiting family members and attempting to assemble their children’s new toys.
Tony Moore, a counsellor with Relationships Ireland, said the period from Christmas Eve to St Stephen’s Day is the most testing period for married couples.
He said: “We’re very busy at the moment and the phones have been ringing all week, with the diary full of appointments right up to Christmas.
“Christmas can be pure hell for many couples, particularly those who aren’t used to spending a lot of time in each other’s company.
“There’s a huge marketing hype around Christmas that creates an expectation that everything’s going to be fantastic. But in most households that’s rarely the case.”
He said one of the biggest tips he gives to partners is to go easy on the booze.
“Small things can become very big problems over Christmas and if you’ve been out drinking till the early hours on Christmas Eve, the next day could be a disaster.
“By about 11am, you’ll already have been up a few hours, the kids will have opened the presents and the living room will be like a bomb site with toys and wrapping paper everywhere. Then the in-laws may be popping round and there’s the Christmas dinner to prepare.
“But all this can be avoided with a bit of preparation and a clear head. And if the blokes help out with the Christmas dinner and tidying up, things will run a lot more smoothly.”
Mr Moore has also reported a growing trend of extra-marital affairs destroying relationships over the past 12 months.