...according to an expert Relationships strategist Mairead Molloy shares her tips to keep the flame alive, including flirting, being emotionally honest and a cup of tea. Judy Cogan.
It is no secret that January is known as the notorious “break-up” season in the UK. The stress and expense of the festive period combined with shorter, dark days and freezing-cold weather can drive couples to the point of no return.
It says something that Google searches for “how to start divorce” are 52.38 per cent higher in January than at any other time of the year.
“People have a lot of time to think over Christmas – and with hours spent indoors on the sofa, they start looking for the negative in the other person and think ‘I’m done’,” Mairead Molloy, a psychologist and relationship strategist, tells i. “The biggest break-ups loom before Christmas and niggle away, before they actually happen in January. It’s a safer time of the year to break up, because it feels like a New Year’s resolution and a fresh start.”
Yet, Molloy says that with the right “relationship maintenance”, you can fly through January as a couple and look forward to a happy 2022. Here she shares 10 tips on how to do just that…
Don’t forget date night
At this time of year, our energy is low and nights on the sofa in tracksuit bottoms are appealing. We go into hibernation mode and it’s easy for romance to go to the window. But it is important to recognise when a cosy routine becomes a rut. Why not change things up with a date night in? Get dressed up for the occasion, make a meal you’ve never made before and light some candles. Turn off the TV for the evening and listen to music, drink wine and talk to each other.
A lot of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which has an impact on our emotions and self-confidence. Put on your gym gear and go out for a brisk walk or a run together on a crisp, sunny morning. I recommend making it a little bit competitive. Find ways to challenge each other. This fun element combined with a rush of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine can be powerfully sexy.
Make joint new year’s resolutions
New year’s resolutions are the perfect way to introduce positive habits into your relationship while looking forward. Offer support to each other in these experiences. You could learn to cook new healthy recipes for each other instead of opting for a Chinese takeaway, or turn off your phones and go to bed earlier. By setting goals with your partner, you will stay motivated, excited and attract a lot more positive emotions.
Make sex a priority
It’s cold and dark outside and motivation is at an all-time low in January. We go back to work, our normal busy routines take over and we get caught up in the shuffle of life. But don’t let your sex life slide. When we do, it can make us feel moody, tired and less inclined to want to make an effort in the bedroom, so it’s a vicious cycle. Be open and honest with each other but try to make sex a priority and you’ll both feel closer for it.
Be emotionally honest
Even the most confident and outgoing people sometimes avoid explaining how they feel to a loved one. It is important to communicate, so if you are having doubts about your relationship or feel neglected or jealous, be honest and tell your partner. It is hard to do, but it gives you the opportunity to work through those negative emotions together and hopefully see it as a January-induced thing, rather than an “It’s all over” situation. Honesty is crucial.
Tweak your language
If you are bickering, even a slight shift in how you communicate can make a big difference. Try saying “I feel…” instead of “You made me feel…” and that will help you both stay focused on resolving your problems instead of it turning into a blazing row and a blame-fest. Remember to say nice things to each other day-to-day, such as: “I like the way I feel when I’m around you” or “I feel at home with you”. It will reinforce positive feelings.
Focus on yourself
By trying to be the best version of yourself for you, you are also helping your relationship. This could involve spending time with friends away from your partner, starting physical activity again or making a plan to get more healthy after all the Christmas indulgence. If you get back into a positive routine, it will reinforce the respect you have for each other and reflect positively on your relationship.
Surprise each other
One way to bring the fire back to any relationship is to reintroduce the element of surprise. Bring home an expected gift, take turns planning a date night, do something the other person doesn’t know about – even if it’s just making them an unexpected cup of tea. The element of mystery forms a silent spark in a relationship and you can flirt around the idea of what might happen next, which is always lovely.
Book a holiday
With the first week of January out of the way, book something to look forward to together. Taking a mini-break together at the end of the month is a good idea. It’s exciting and within reach, unlike a summer holiday that may seem too far away right now. Book a ski holiday, go walking in the Lake District or head off for a romantic trip to a European city. The main thing is you have something fun to look forward to and time away together.
Bring flirting back
Small things can make all the difference and often don’t cost a thing. Eye contact, for instance, is massively underrated. It can help you stay closer to your partner and build intimacy really quickly and powerfully. Add in lots of hand-holding, cuddling and physical contact day-to-day. By touching in a non-sexual way, it will reignite an emotional bond that you share.
Finally, remember this time will pass…
The days are getting longer, spring is on it’s way, so hold on in there.