Find out whether you should work at your relationship, or if it's time to move on

January is the month when romantic relationships come under intense pressure. The chilly weather outdoors is nothing compared to the frostiness of a relationship cracking under a year of stresses and strains. High expectations for fun and family time during the festive season leave many disappointed when their partner fails to deliver. Added pressure means old tensions easily bubble up into arguments, leaving both partners wondering whether it's time to part. The first month of the New Year can be make-or-break time for many relationships.

New Year resolutions see many people acting upon thoughts of separation, rather than just considering them. Law firms report that the first working day of January sees a surge of inquiries from couples looking to separate, leading them to name it 'Divorce Day'. If you are thinking of calling time on your relationship, here are some thoughts to guide you through this difficult decision.

You Can Work it out...

Every relationship experiences tough times; the trick is to be able to differentiate a rough patch from a relationship deal breaker. Only you know whether your relationship is worth saving - this depends upon both of your needs and compatibility. Instead of a splitting up as knee-jerk reaction to one rough patch think rationally about the long-term: talk, listen, and compromise.

A loving relationship
Everyone is sometimes angry with the way their partner behaves. Nobody is perfect. But your relationship should be loving, in words and deeds, 99 per cent of the time. Your partner should treat you with respect, love and kindness and you should do the same in return. Ask yourself: is s/he my best friend? Romance built on friendship is well worth preserving. Ask yourself: if a platonic friend treated me the way my partner does, would I remain friends with them?

Shared values
Having conflicts of opinions is healthy; having a completely different world view will make for a relationship filled with strife. For a harmonious relationship it's important to have similar opinions on the big questions in life, such as fidelity, marriage, or children. Partners in long term relationships can sometimes find that values change and differ as they grow as people. This can cause the disintegration of a relationship if the couple can't compromise about new viewpoints.

Contribute Equally
Both partners must contribute to the health of the relationship. If one person is doing all the work then the relationship is doomed. You cannot make a relationship work if your partner's heart is not in it. This is in terms of emotional commitment but it could equally apply if one partner is working hard to bring in money while the other does not contribute in any way.

Compromise
In a world that's dominated by instant gratification, the word 'compromise' is not a fashionable term. We are often told that the last thing we should do is compromise - we should take what we want and accept nothing less. But people who ignore compromise within a relationship will either not have that relationship for long, or will have a partner who lives in fear. Compromise is a key part of spiritual growth. Learning to take second place to another person's needs, then for them to repay the favour another time, deepens love and spiritual connection.

Move Forward, separately...

Relationship advice usually focuses on how to save your relationship. But sometimes, spiritually, emotionally and practically, the healthy option is to end a relationship.

Abuse
If your partner is abusing you physically or emotionally, and equally if you are the abuser, your relationship is not healthy and you are damaging one another. Confide in family, friends or a specialist organisation that can help you both move on safely.

Lack of Support
Your partner should take pleasure in your achievements and encourage you on to greater goals. If s/he is not supportive, or appears threatened or jealous - this relationship is not serving your highest good.

Fear of Commitment
A partner who will not or cannot commit to you in the fullest way will never create a healthy relationship with you. If you would like marriage or children but s/he puts the big decisions on hold for years, or if your partner threatens to leave if you don't behave as they wish - it is time to look for someone who values you as you deserve.

Irreconcilable differences
The reason this is the catch-all term on divorce papers is that it covers a wide variety of relationship issues - from clashing lifestyle choices to infidelity to addictions. You must decide if your differences can be mended; are you able to compromise, or change your behaviour, or accept your partner's behaviour? Is doing so in your best interest? Sometimes life takes people in different directions and it is healthier to part.

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