Across the globe, January is filled with unofficial national "divorce days". These are by no means a real celebration, but rather, the most popular days in which people contact a lawyer to enquire about divorce proceedings.

We don't have one here in New Zealand, but the UK's 2018 Divorce Day was last Monday – the first day back to real life after the British holiday season. In the US, it was a week earlier because Americans take less time off.

It's thought that the first working day of the new year is when disillusioned couples who have pushed through one last stressful Christmas period will finally decide to throw in the towel. Solicitors thus see an influx of business as unhappy people decide enough is enough.

With Kiwis returning to work at various stages right up until the end of January, we probably have more of a "Divorce Month" than anything else. If the trend does in fact translate down here, it's probably because that "New Year, New Me" mantra is rife and everybody is currently thinking about what's not working in their life, and how to change it.



Surveys always give us the same most common reasons for divorce: money, family/in-laws, religion, sex, infidelity, and so on. Top of the list is always communication, though. Relationships dissolve when one or both parties stop trying to communicate, and instead put their focus on other parts of their lives.

I consider the month of January to be the ideal time to re-initiate a dialogue between disenfranchised romantic partners, rather than hastily decide "enough is enough" and get the lawyer on the phone.

If you're having issues in your relationship or marriage and aren't usually good at communication, use this article as your excuse (or prompt, as it were). Tell 'em Lee Suckling sent you.

The rationale for this is simple. In January, we have copious daylight hours and reasons to be outside in the evenings, when daily life has calmed down and the environment is fertile for open communication. You can literally sit outside with your partner until after 10pm discussing your problems without the distraction of the TV, the kids, or the internet. You can go for late walks together and be forced to talk. There are no doors to slam, and you might be more likely to listen to your partner (rather than yell over them) because you don't want the neighbours to overhear you.

My husband and I have done a lot of talking at night this month. We sit face-to-face in the courtyard with a glass of wine and really, properly look into each other's eyes when we discuss things – something that's easy not to do when you're sat on the sofa or anywhere else in your house. Friends of ours have found their spa pool to be the best place to open up and communicate; there are literally no other distractions in there.

Now, we can't dissuade from the possibility that opening up a dialogue about your relationship will end negatively. Not every problem can be worked through and, indeed, through talking you might really realise that your relationship needs to break up. But at least you won't be making a snap decision on the first day back of the daily grind.

So, rather than making January the month to falsely resolve your issues, I reckon it perfectly acceptable to resolve to be happy alone this year.

Nobody benefits from staying in an unhappy relationship or marriage – not you, your partner, or your kids, if you have them. If that's the case for you, deciding it through an open line of communication is the best way forward to see the next 12 months through with confidence. With any luck, whichever way your communication goes, you can give yourself the best chance at avoiding Divorce Month in January 2019.

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