Experts in the Media

Beverly Ligman – Body+Soul

Media Engagement Manager, Media Stable | Author

‘January is divorce month, which I learnt the hard way’

Why are so many women walking away in the first month of the year?

Beverly Ligman knows what it’s like to want a fresh start. As someone who initiated her divorce in January, she falls into the cohort of women who reevaluate their relationships at the beginning of the  year. Here, she shares her tips for getting through a separation, sanity intact.

Ah January. A new year, a time for fresh starts, new beginnings and… divorces.

There’s something about the start of a new year that really makes us stop and reflect; it’s a line in the sand marking another year of our life that’s flown by.

If you’re in an unhappy relationship, or a relationship that you feel is going nowhere, it’s somehow comforting to know that more women walk away in January AKA ‘divorce month’ than any other month of the year.

It’s exactly what I did when I asked for a divorce nine years ago.

What people won’t tell you when you’re considering getting a divorce is that it takes a lot of courage to walk away. In fact, it’s much easier to stay. If you stay, you’re not upsetting the apple cart, you’re not dividing up all of the things, you don’t have to tell your families and friends. You don’t have to feel like you failed at marriage.

But…if you’re with the wrong person, spending another year going through the motions probably isn’t going to magically fix it and make them perfect for you.

A hard, but necessary change

I get it. Divorce is hard, and is something that no one actually wants to go through, but sometimes there’s no alternative. Six months after I walked away from my marriage I realised that if I had stayed with my ex-husband, I would never have been the best version of myself. And that realisation hit me hard. Because I didn’t like that old version of myself; the one who’d been cheated on, who wasn’t sure of herself, who second guessed every single decision.

I clearly remember the moment I decided I wanted a divorce. It was early January, all the fun and festivities of Christmas and New Year were over, I was alone, but not lonely. I knew I deserved so much more and I believed there was a better life and relationship out there for me.

I was right, there was.

Grieving your marriage

It’s a well-known fact that women grieve before they leave, so by the time I walked out the door I’d weighed up every single option, had all of the crisis talks and tried everything to ‘fix’ my marriage. The trouble was, it was shattered into a million pieces and trying to glue it back together was a pointless waste of time, it would never look the same and I’d never feel the same about him.

But here’s the thing about getting a divorce or ending any relationship, you have to be ready, and only you know when that time is.

You’ll discover when you go through the process of separation that everyone has an opinion on your ex and your marriage. Some of these are helpful, most of them are not. Trust your gut, only two people know what really happened and why it’s not working.

Space to reflect

Another reason why relationships often end in January is because we give ourselves the space to reflect. We’re another year older, and another year wiser, but is this really what we want? Instead of filling our diaries with work, parties, events and lunches all of a sudden we have time to think about the year that was. We also tend to spend a lot of time in January with our families and no one mirrors our reflections quite like they do.

How to carry on

If you’re facing a divorce or separation this January, I’m sorry, it’s a spectacularly tough time, peppered with people using platitudes and saying stupid things they think will help. If it’s any consolation, nine years on, I’d totally forgotten it would have been my wedding anniversary on January 2nd. It didn’t even cross my mind.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s shining bright with a new and improved version of you, living your dream life, with your perfect person. All you have to do is find the courage to walk through the tunnel and find her.

It’s just like our girl Dua Lipa once said: “Though it took some time to survive you, I’m better on the other side.” And you will be too.

Beverly Ligman is author of Welcome to D-Town: A guide to divorce for the kind of young and still kind of hot… and is a media engagement manager at Media Stable.