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According to the press, Monday 8th January is “Divorce Monday” – the day when divorce lawyers are at their busiest.  Christmas has been a disaster and with the kids back at school you pick up the phone to arrange that first meeting with a solicitor. Publications are awash with articles from solicitors writing about how divorce rates spike in January. Well readers, I am bucking the trend and I am going to be positive in my article – hooray, did I hear you say?

For readers out there, who found Christmas the topping on a miserable marital year, you are not alone but it doesn’t have to end up in divorce.

In my twenty plus years as a family solicitor one of the common reasons I have seen for divorce is the complete breakdown in communication between a couple. Words exchanged can become misunderstood which can lead either to raised voices or unhappy feelings left unsaid because you can’t face the reaction if you say them out loud.   Communication takes many forms. Couples should feel as free and physically and emotionally safe to express unhappy as well as happy feelings but this can sometimes get lost as the relationship matures. The arrival of children can make it harder to find time to be a couple, to talk and to share feelings.

When communication breaks down, your hackles can rise and it is easy to become defensive, to withdraw affection and to retreat into oneself. Sometimes the relationship gets so bad that neither wants to open up discussions for fear of what they will hear about themselves and worried that discussions however well intended may turn into rows which can be exhausting.

In my professional life there has been a number of times when, after listening to my client’s marital woes, I have asked them to think about breaking the marital ice and being the one to open up communication. Fear of rejection and humiliation can be a bar to starting a conversation but you will never know how your other half feels without some honest dialogue.

Sometimes couples need help to open up which is where a couple counsellor can be invaluable to end the deadlock. I advise clients who want to try, that if a discussion becomes heated, stop and agree to meet again in a day or so.  Clients are encouraged to remember why they first fell in love, what used to make them happy and to think about ways they can get that love back again. If you have invested years of your adult life in a relationship or marriage and you have children, out of respect for your marriage and for your children, you might want to explore all avenues before you concede defeat.  There are, of course, relationships where this is not possible because it’s not safe and when action needs to be taken quickly.

Chapman and Pieri are here when your relationship does not work out and you need a professional that will support you through what may be a very emotionally challenging journey ahead.  Please take a look at our website where you will find looks of helpful information: