OnePlusOne, the relationship research charity I work for, has a little bit of nuance to throw into the inevitable New Year narrative around the claim that the first day back at work is 'divorce day'.
January is the most popular time of year to enquire about divorce - and I wrote a piece on the Huffington Post last year looking at why people's thoughts turn in this direction at this time of year. But it's not the most popular time of year to file for divorce - OnePlusOne's research team have found no statistics or evidence to back up the claim that there are more divorces in January than at any other time of the year. What is true is that January sees more web searches for 'divorce' and related terms, such as 'counselling', and legal firms will see a spike in enquiries about divorce and separation processes.
It's important to be clear that the volume of enquiries does not necessarily correspond to actions to initiate a divorce or even separate. It's also important to try to understand what might be driving this.
It's no surprise that many couples fall out during the festive season: the longed-for break from work can suddenly feel like being under house arrest, minor issues become magnified, too much booze leads to loosened tongues which can lead to rows... If your relationship is unsatisfactory and you've had a tricky time of it over Christmas, the thought of entering the New Year and facing more of the same can lead to a sense of hopelessness. It's a time of reflection and if you're reflecting on the theme of "what can I do to make things different", looking at the options around divorce or separation might seem like a good idea.
But there are other options. Recognising that you're unhappy in a relationship offers you the opportunity to change things. Considering a divorce or separation doesn't mean that a relationship will end - many couples who want to work things out can, especially if they seek help at an early stage. Seeking help when thoughts of separation first creep in can be hugely helpful in resolving problems and makes the prospect of separating less likely. Yes, D-day often marks the point at which things drastically change, but not always in the direction of splitting up.
OnePlusOne provides free online support to couples who want help to overcome relationship issues and stay together. We advise those who are thinking of separating from their partner to visit our Couple Connection web site - http://thecoupleconnection.net/ - and find out more about the DIY courses and support on offer, which can help people address their problems and improve their relationships.
In the event that separation is unavoidable, we are also able to sign-post people to resources to help minimise conflict. And, of course, the number one consideration for most parents is what's best for their children. Help is at hand from OnePlusOne's Parent Connection online service - its free, available 24/7 and offers reliable information and support. The courses and parenting plan provided have helped thousands of people who are trying to work out a way of parenting after parting that minimises the negative impact of a separation or divorce on their children.
For further information about OnePlusOne and the resources we provide visit www.oneplusone.org.uk/what-we-do
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