January tends to be the hardest month for couples and it is the time of year when a break-up is the most likely. You can learn to navigate the common pit falls and strengthen your relationship (or find one that is closer to what you want).
January: Break-Up Season?
The most common reason for the January break-up season? Stress. In the shadow of the already stressful and financially draining holiday season, couples have a hard time coping with the mounting concerns. You may have encountered family pressure to settle down (or find a different partner) or are dealing with the let down of the holidays ending and the gloomy weather setting in. Taken together, these stresses make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship.
Get Through Winter Together
There are simple steps you can take to make sure you and your partner increase your positive experiences so you can come out of this stressful time stronger.
Schedule Together Time – With all of this stress, you and your partner need time to enjoy each other’s company in a low stress environment. Schedule a date night once per week to do something enjoyable and rejuvenating together: take up a new exercise routine, have a movie marathon, or go see a museum exhibit together.
Kindness is Key – When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed we tend to forget to be nice to each other. Take a moment to reflect on why your partner is special to you and consider a way to express what they mean to you: write them a short letter, bring them a small meaningful gift, or offer to do a chore for them.
Make a Plan – If a big portion of your stress is due to financial or familial concerns make a plan to address it together. Write out a savings plan that has you each contributing equally. Call the friend or family member that you are concerned about together. Whatever your concern, feeling like you have a plan to address it and being able to rely on your partner to help you carry the plan out reduces your stress and builds your relationship.
Plan Alone Time – It’s hard to improve your relationship when you don’t feel well. If you notice yourself feeling tried, short-tempered, or highly emotional, make sure that you take care of yourself while taking care of your relationship. This may mean giving yourself an extra day off from work to recuperate, scheduling weekly alone time, or deciding to seek out the help of a friend or professional.
Keep the Conversation Open – Ignoring problems or stonewalling your partner will only lead to further problems. Instead, encourage an open dialogue where you are each able to express your concerns and frustrations without being accusatory. Really listen to your partner and they will likely do the same for you. Sometimes the very act of encouraging open, judgment-free conversation can be deeply healing.
Decide What’s Right for You
Sometimes the reason for January break-ups is the relationship should have ended in October. You may hold out through the holidays because you don’t want to be alone (or leave your partner alone) through the holiday season. You may have committed to plans and gifts and feel the expectation of friends and relatives seeing you together so you decide to put the decision off until the holidays are over.
If the relationship has been in trouble for a while, if you’ve made a substantial effort to improve things but it’s just not working, if you feel exhausted or run down, these may be signs that the relationship can come to an end. Sometimes, rather than holding on until the last possible moment, it is a relief to let go of a relationship before it wears you out. By making the conscious decision to end the relationship you can treat yourself and your partner with dignity and respect. Let them know that things are not working and consider scheduling a conversation to give support and feedback about what you appreciated about the other person while you were together. Seek out the counsel of a trusted friend or professional to help you both through the transition and give yourself adequate time to grieve before moving on. If you do, you will be refreshed and ready to seek out a partner that is better suited to your needs and personality. Consider making a fresh start of the New Year.