Christmas 2004 – it was the last Christmas I spent as a married woman. I remember it distinctly. I was deeply unhappy and in my heart I knew that I no longer wanted to be in this marriage, but in my head I hadn’t made that decision. It felt overwhelming to even think about it as a real possibility.
Statistically, January is the time when most couples split up. But leaping into action is probably not the best solution. Our human nature is uncomfortable with discomfort. So we look for a solution, rushing into action.
Based on my own experience, there are a number of things you can usefully do before rushing to see a solicitor.
1. Take time for yourself. Conventional advice is more along the lines of ‘keep communicating with your partner.’ No. The point is that there has been a lot of communicating – or perhaps miscommunicating – over Christmas. Carve out time in your schedule to be in your own company. This way you’ll hear your own voice.
2. Respect your own privacy. Discuss your dilemma with as few people as possible, and choose those few well.
3. Get support from a neutral source – a professional, if appropriate. There is a difference between discussing your process with a friend and getting support from someone neutral.
In December of 2004 I discussed my dilemna with three people who love me deeply and whose integrity I trust. At the start of January 2005 it was clear to me that I needed to speak with someone external to the situation. Over the next two months I spoke with two professionals – a coach and a counsellor. This was invaluable in making my choice clear, and my course of action as frictionless as possible.