Sarah Woodward shares her tips for a happy new year, no matter what happened with relationships in 2020
The Christmas decorations are packed away for another year, you’re back at work, the kids have returned to school and it’s back to earth with a bump. January can be a struggle for all of us – emotionally and financially. And for couples who have been feeling the strain within their relationship, today is the day that many decide to call it a day and start legal proceedings to end their marriage.
The pressure of delivering the perfect Christmas has finally lifted and the sheer relief comes that it’s over – but then comes the terrifying thought of a whole new year stretching out before us. These thoughts are what trigger more than 40,000 people to type the word ‘divorce’ into Google this month, why Relate are bombarded with a 24% increase in calls to their helpline in the month of January and why many lawyers will return to work today and be run off their feet.
If your marriage has been in crisis and Christmas has brought tensions to a head, you’re not alone. 1 in 5 of us living in the UK are in a ‘distressed relationship’ and 42% of marriages end in divorce.
But, as depressing as this sounds, it’s not all doom and gloom. If you’ve made the decision to end your marriage – that year stretching out in front of you doesn’t have to be the worst of your life. Yes, it’s going to be tough, but it’s also 365 days in which you can make yourself truly happy. It can also be an opportunity for you and the start of a new chapter in your life.
Here are 7 reasons why 2021 could be your best year yet, even after your breakup:
- You can rediscover yourself – when you’re in a relationship your identity naturally becomes entwined with your partners. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship you can lose part of yourself and forget who you really are. You make compromises within the relationship to make it work. Now is your opportunity to rediscover yourself and even reinvent yourself if you want to! Take some time to be on your own and reflect on what you love doing and what lights you up. It’s a chance to redesign your life.
- You can be happier – especially if you’ve been in a negative relationship with lots of arguments as that can be really damaging for your mental health. It can feel like a huge relief knowing that you can please yourself without feeling like you’re treading on eggshells around someone. Now is the time to concentrate on you and what truly makes you happy. Researchers at the University of Kingston found that women are actually happier for up to five years after their divorce.
- Your confidence will increase – although your confidence might dip initially after your breakup, over time it will increase again. You’ll realise that you can achieve things that previously you would have thought impossible or you would have doubted yourself. You no longer have a partner to rely on, so you have to step up and you’ll feel amazing for it. Make sure you celebrate all your achievements, no matter how small they might seem.
- You have more freedom – you no longer have someone else to consider before you do something. You can choose to be totally selfish and don’t have to feel guilty if you take time out for you. Even if you have kids, you will still have precious time to yourself when your partner has the kids, which you may not have had before. Use the time to do something for you that you didn’t have time for before – whether that’s self-care or spending time with friends who are good fun and make you feel good about yourself.
- You can pursue your dreams – our dreams can often be put on hold when we’re in a relationship, especially if our partner doesn’t share our aspirations and that can lead to resentment over time. Now’s the time to start your Breakup Bucket List with everything you want to do in 2021 and beyond. What can you do now that you’re single that you couldn’t when you were in your relationship? What have you always wanted to do? Write it all down and set yourself some goals. By doing that we automatically focus on it more and our brain will be looking out for opportunities to meet those dreams.
- Your future relationships will benefit – take some time out to reflect on what didn’t work in your relationship and the part you played in that. Don’t view it as a failure, instead see it as an opportunity to learn. What have you learnt that will help to make your future relationships more fulfilling? Also take some time to think about what you want from your future relationships and partners. You will be more likely to find it if you know what you are looking for.
- Your kids will be happier – Many couples chose to stay together for the sake of the kids, but this isn’t always for the best. Kids pick up on any tensions and negativity within a relationship, even if you try to hide it from them. It can be much better for kids to have two happy parents who are separated than two unhappy parents in the same home. You will also be a role model for your kids in showing them how to be resilient and pick yourself up when life doesn’t go according to plan.
If you are currently going through a breakup or you are still struggling to move on after one, be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are grieving. Take some time to reflect on the list above and how you could focus on some of it. Think about what you want your life to look like in future and start taking some small steps to move you towards that. By starting to take some action you will feel more in control and empowered.