New Beginnings – January Doesn’t Have to be Breakup Month
Marking a new year with a new beginning is so common that I was surprised on December 31st when a local newspaper journalist called and asked me “Is it true that January is the month when the highest number of relationships end?” After my conversation with her I went to the urban legend fact checkers at www.snopes.com and saw that they mark this particular legend “true.”
I started thinking of possible reasons for this. Some couples have probably realized they haven’t been happy together for awhile but have put off making a decision about the relationship until after the winter holidays. They know that ending their relationship will not only impact them but also their friendship groups and families. If they have children, they are especially careful to avoid a break up between Thanksgiving and January.
When one partner wants to end a relationship, there could also be a desire to try to protect the other partner from the added hurt of a break-up during the holiday season. Some couples have holiday traditions including parties, travel, daytrips or special evenings out on the town. The plans for these can be made months in advance and it seems cruel to end a relationship and leave someone alone and without a date for these events. Finally, holiday stress could possibly contribute to more arguments between couples this time of year.
It’s true that you can’t have a new beginning without an ending and it’s always our prerogative to make decisions about whether it’s best for us to continue in a relationship or end it.
But I also know that while January might be break up month it can also be just the time to make a new beginning together. I do know that there is a definite uptick in couples calling for appointments during the first weeks of January. However, if the calls I’ve received during the past couple of weeks is any indication, January is not only national break up month; It’s also when couples say “Let’s give it another try. I want this to work. Let’s see if we can make things better.” Seeing couples recommit, untangle communication issues, feel understood and recover compassion and closeness is also a common January occurrence. Now that’s the story I’d really love to see in the paper.
About Wanda Sevey, MDiv, LMFT
Wanda Sevey, MDiv, LMFT, is a licensed couples and family therapist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition to working with couples in counseling, she has been involved in couples education for 15 years.