It’s the month that sees thousands of Brits make New Year’s resolutions – and for a surprising number, item one on the list is quitting their marriage.
The first Monday after January 1 has been dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ due to the spike in the number of people filing for splits, with the stress of
This was the case for Jude Clay, 36, from Hampshire, and Hayley Copper, from Bexley, Kent. Both mothers to young sons, Jude and Hayley made the difficult decision to leave their unhappy marriages in the first week of January in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Neither have looked back, with Jude even taking herself off on a ‘divorce holiday’ months after her separation was finalised. She also believes her relationship with her son has improved as a result of the split.
Here they share with FEMAIL why they chose the start of a new year to leave their husbands, after Christmas tipped them over the edge.
Jude Clay, 36, from Hampshire, chose to end her marriage in January 2017 and even went on a ‘divorce holiday’
Jude met ex-husband Simon in 2006 through mutual friends and was instantly attracted to his outgoing character. He proposed after a year and the pair went travelling around Australia and planned a beautiful wedding for their return in the autumn of 2010.
The couple were together for nearly 10 years; seven of which they were married.
Jude, who is founder of the parenting and relationship blog, gluingcheese, fell pregnant with their son TJ in January 2015.
After a very difficult birth, she found herself struggling both mentally and physically during the first few months of parenting.
While they both adored their son – and Simon was a hands-on dad – Jude didn’t feel Simon could understand what she had been through or give her the emotional support she needed.
They began to grow apart, becoming more like housemates than man and wife. Jude felt as though their relationship was disintegrating before her eyes and it felt like there was nothing either of them could do to save it.
After the difficult birth of their son TJ, Jude said she felt she and Simon began to grow apart
They argued increasingly, and when it came to matters such as whether to have more children, they both wanted different things.
After spending Christmas and New Year together in 2016, Jude took the plunge and spoke to Simon about their relationship in January, and they agreed it was beyond saving.
‘The festive season and the beginning of a new year is such a reflective time for so many of us,’ Jude said. ‘We take stock of our lives. This can intensify if Christmas has been difficult because of a problematic marriage.
‘The festive holidays don’t have to be the picture perfect dream we’re surrounded by for much of December, but any cracks or strains in a relationship can’t be ignored – or could become increasingly apparent – when under the glare of the Christmas lights.
After spending Christmas and New Year together in 2016, Jude took the plunge and spoke to Simon about their relationship in January, and they agreed it was beyond saving. Pictured: With her son TJ
‘For me, it was just that. I knew that I wasn’t happy and that things needed to change sooner rather than later. It wasn’t fair on me, my now ex-husband, or our young child to pretend that everything was OK when it definitely wasn’t. My divorce became the ultimate New Year’s Resolution and I didn’t look back.’
Jude said the decision to end their marriage came about following a ‘reasonably insignificant’ argument in the first week of January.
‘It was the straw which broke the camel’s back in our marriage, and just showed me how incompatible we were,’ she said. ‘I looked at him and calmly said, “I think we’re done here, aren’t we?” and Simon seemed to agree. It was quite the anti-climax in reality.
‘It had been on my mind for some time that things needed to drastically change and we had fallen out so many times that there didn’t seem any point in fighting any more.’
After her separation, Jude booked a week-long trip on a whim to meet a friend who lives in Australia but was travelling around America
Jude said the decision to end their marriage came about following a ‘reasonably insignificant’ argument in the first week of January
Jude and Simon continued living together for the next few months while they sold their three-bedroom home in Surrey and found their own places to live.
She moved into a two-bedroom flat back in the town she grew up in, but lost her network of ‘mum friends’ and felt ‘defeated’ by the failure of her marriage. But broadly speaking, she has never looked back.
‘It was a tricky few months still living under the same roof – we even had a holiday booked together which we still went on, as we tried our best to salvage a friendship from our failed relationship for the sake of our young son as well as ourselves,’ she said.
January is a busy month for divorce lawyers…
Searches for ‘I want a divorce’ rose by over 230 per cent during the first week of January 2020 compared to December 2019.
A new study by Richard Nelson, compiled ahead of Divorce Day – the first working Monday of January – revealed searches for ‘diy divorce’, ‘quickie divorce’ and ‘divorce my partner’ rose by over 100 per cent during the New Year.
It also showed divorce inquiries for lawyers increase by 30 per cent during Divorce Day.
Alberta Tevie, consultant solicitor at Richard Nelson, said: ‘Where problems already exist, with the stress of creating the perfect Christmas and the money troubles which often accompany this, many couples often see the Christmas period as the final straw in their relationship.
‘The stress of spending time with relatives, cooking an elaborate meal and the giving and receiving of presents can be overwhelming for some people. They hang on for the Christmas period, often for the sake of their children and family, but the threads of their relationship unravel shortly after.
‘For Divorce Day 2020, we predict divorce enquiries will continue to peak, especially considering the increased rate of enquiries we dealt with over the period of Divorce Day 2019.’
‘I was heartbroken but I didn’t believe in the “staying together for the kids” mentality – something I hope my son will respect as he gets older.’
Jude and Simon agreed to co-parent TJ by splitting the care for him during the week and having him on alternate weekends.
Having lived apart, they filed for a ‘no-fault’ divorce in August 2019, which negates couples must have a two-year separation period.
‘I believe single mums are better parents than we would have been if we were still trapped in bad relationships,’ Jude explained.
‘Single parenting is often called double parenting and never has a truer word been said. I am fortunate that my son’s dad plays an active role in his life.
‘Me and my son are a team. We adore each other and the minute we’re apart cuts like a knife. I am sure we’re closer than we would have been under different life circumstances because our time together is undivided attention.
‘The regular time he spends with his dad has also blossomed his relationship there too.’
Jude, founder of the blog Gluing Cheese, claims a weekend therapy retreat with divorce coach Sara Davison ‘changed her life’.
‘One of the sessions we did was to draw a picture of something which scares us and then throw it into a shredder,’ she recalled. ‘I drew myself walking down the road with a naked left hand pushing the pram.
‘The exercise was simple but so effective. Bin the stuff that drags you down and hold your head high. I keep that in my mind and walk with a spring in my step now.’
Jude decided to book a ‘divorce holiday’ to New York in March 2017, a few months after her separation took place.
Jude claims a weekend therapy retreat with divorce coach Sara Davison ‘changed her life’. She also enjoys a ‘better’ relationship with her son now she’s no longer in an unhappy relationship with his father
She booked the week-long trip on a whim to meet a friend who lives in Australia but was travelling around America.
‘I found the trip incredibly liberating – it was something I really wanted to do and, once I’d sorted childcare, I arrived in NYC around 10 hours before my friend, so I had that first day – and the flight – on my own,’ she explained.
‘I’d only flown on my own once before and found it very freeing not have to answer to anyone and being able to do as I pleased. The actual trip was great too, to spend time with a good friend, reconnect, share stories and enjoy an amazing place to make some long lasting memories. It gave me perspective, a new interest in life and optimism for a happy future ahead.’
Hayley separated from her husband in January 2019, with it having been ‘on the cards’ for a while during the final few months of 2018.
‘The decision to separate was a decision mainly driven by me, as on-and-off we had been struggling for a number of years,’ she revealed.
‘I had grown frustrated and resentful of a number of compromises that I’d had to make – which I didn’t realise at the time were fundamental to what I wanted out of life.’
Hayley separated from her husband in January 2019, with it having been ‘on the cards’ for a while during the final few months of 2018
In 2015 the couple attended Relate counselling and things improved for a while. Hayley was then diagnosed with depression in late 2015, which came as a ‘huge shock’.
During the following two years she underwent two spells of individual counselling to help her through her mental health issues and those in her relationship.
In a therapy session in November 2017, Hayley, pictured with her son Nathan, experienced a fundamental shift in her thinking which saw her dare to imagine what life might be like if she separated from her husband
In a therapy session in November 2017, Hayley experienced a fundamental shift in her thinking which saw her dare to imagine what life might be like if she separated from her husband.
‘I remember making a secret list of all the things and money I would need to rent a flat and set up a new home for my son Nathan and I,’ she recalled.
‘The choice suddenly became clear to me; stay in the marriage and be ill, or stop taking responsibility for his happiness and put mine and Nathan’s wellbeing first.’
Mid-December 2017, after Hayley gave up on a new career after eight weeks, she made the mental decision to leave.
She carried on as normal through Christmas, mainly for the sake of eight-year-old Nathan, but said it was ‘painfully clear’ on New Year’s Eve that it was the end.
‘It was an evening of low mood and preoccupied minds, spent at home fuzzily going through the motions,’ she said.
‘Once Big Ben rang out and the fireworks exploded, I felt like everything in my life by contrast was imploding. We wished each other a Happy New Year and I went off to bed, leaving him downstairs. I began counting down towards finding the right time and opportunity to move things forward.’
The family managed their usual day out on the coast on New Year’s Day, but it was strained between the couple.
Hayley carried on as normal through Christmas, mainly for the sake of eight-year-old Nathan, but said it was ‘painfully clear’ on New Year’s Eve that it was the end
Hayley seized the first chance she had to talk to her husband one evening during the first week of January.
‘The conversation happened at home after Nathan had gone to bed for the night,’ she recalled.
‘It began like any other conversation, probably about family logistics, and when my ex said something like, “depending on what happens between us”, I took the opportunity to bring it up.
‘The mood changed, and it felt like we were both resigned to what was to come next. I said I wanted to separate for six months initially to see if we could save our relationship, but he refused, saying if we separate, we separate.
‘It surprised me, but if I’m honest deep down I knew that would probably delay the situation.’
Having made up her mind to leave, Hayley seized the first chance she had to talk to her husband one evening during the first week of January
Hayley said both she and her husband felt ‘numb’ to the realisation that this was the beginning of the end of their relationship – and surprised by the anticlimax.
‘We spoke of what would happen next; he offered to move out, that I would buy him out of his share of the house, and we discussed how and when we should tell Nathan,’ she said.
‘Everything changed from that point on. We stopped the pretence of being together.’
Hayley’s husband moved out on January 26 last year to a small flat less than a five minute walk from the family home.
If you find yourself faced with the prospect of break-up or divorce, there are some crucial steps you can take now to safeguard yourself in what can otherwise be one of life’s most traumatic events.
Sara Davison’s top tips for how to break-up or divorce in the best way possible
Sara Davison, known as The Divorce Coach, has created revolutionary new ways to cope with break-ups and divorce and offers break-up retreats
1. Get your support team in place: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the divorce process from a financial, legal and emotional perspective, whilst trying to maintain your daily routine too. So get experts around you who can help answer all the questions you have and give you the best advice. This helps protect your best interests and dials down your stress knowing you can get your questions answers.
2. Get clarity on what you spend each month so you can understand your spending patterns: Create a budget spreadsheet of your weekly and monthly expenditure. You need to take ownership of this so you feel more financially independent and in control.
3. Agree with your partner what to say to the kids about the break-up: Always good to sit down together if possible and tell them together. Reassurance that they are loved and that this is not their fault is key.
4. Treat each other with respect and kindness: You are bound to disagree at some point and if you agree to treat each other well you can keep it as amicable as possible.
5: Don’t forget to keep some fun in your life: It can be a rollercoaster of emotions so make sure you find ways to laugh and connect with those you love.
6. Don’t talk about your break-up to everyone you meet: Share your feelings with close friends or family but don’t get sucked into a world where the only thing you talk about is your split.
7. Look after yourself: Eating well and exercising is crucial to keeping a strong mind and enabling you to make better decisions.
8. Write a list of all the things you weren’t happy with in your relationship as you take off the rose tinted glasses: If you are heartbroken and finding it hard to let go of your ex this is a great exercise. When we reminisce about our partners it’s easy to focus on all the good bits and romanticise about things. But this will keep you stuck in the past and it isn’t always reality as this list will show.
9. Ask for help: If you are struggling to cope with the negative emotions then make sure you ask for help. Some people find it hard to reach out but there are books out there which can help you to move forward after a break-up, as well as experts who specialise in this area.
10. Make some uplifting plans and put them into action: If you are looking for support with your break-up then my new book ‘The Split – 30 days from Break-up to Breakthrough’ is out now on Amazon. It will give you your own step by step 30 Day Plan to cope with your break-up and ensure you keep your momentum moving forward.
The Divorce Coach Sara Davison’s next Break-up Recovery Retreat will take place on 29th February and 1st March. For more details visit www.saradavison.com