It may be tough, but sometimes it is better to end a relationship
Published 06/01/2012 | 06:00
It's three decades since The Clash kerranged the question: 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' But as 2012 offers the chance of a do-over in everything from dating to dieting, it seems some of us are still wrestling with an answer.
Despite the mistletoe, this festive season saw the demise of two high-profile marriages -- with Russell Brand and Katy Perry and Sinéad O'Connor and Barry Herridge all ringing in the New Year as singletons.
Following months of speculation and protestation, Brand (36) and Perry (27) finally split after 14 months of marriage when the comedian filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences" last Friday.
Meanwhile here at home, singer O'Connor (45) and fourth husband Herridge (38) called it quits on Christmas Eve just 16 days after tying the knot in a pink Cadillac in Vegas -- but yesterday vowed to give it another go after a "beautiful evening of love making".
So whatever about smoking, when it comes to New Year's resolutions, should we be stubbing out relationships that are bad for us instead?
"Divorce rates increase enormously around this time of year," relationship psychologist Beverley Stone told the Irish Independent.
"A lot of couples put off breaking up until after Christmas for the sake of their children -- then suddenly that turns into waiting until the children go to university or there's a nice retirement plan.
"If you're waiting for the 'right time' to divorce, you may end up in a situation where you wish you'd done it 20 years ago," she warns. "Yes, divorce is sad -- but getting stuck in a life of stagnation, consumed by whether to stay or leave is even sadder."
Stay or Leave? -- that's the dilemma weighed up in Stone's new book of the same name.
"When you've been for couples counselling, gone on retreats and read the self-help books and your marriage still isn't working, it may be time to make a big decision," says Stone, who set up her own practice in 1989. "The problem is that for every pro, there's usually a con.
"A lot of people have catastrophic fantasies about making the move -- 'Will it kill my parents?', 'Can I afford it?' or 'What will the neighbours think?' They feel trapped and every time they think of taking a risk, they're crippled by anxiety.
"But the biggest terror of all is the terror of a wasted life," she adds.
"When you're contemplating divorce, most people will try to allay your fears -- I often joke that I'll make you so frightened, you'll want to jump one way or another.
"I want people to realise that they have a choice -- even if it means handing the keys of your house back to the mortgagee and living in a caravan."
After filing from divorce from her husband of 72 days, Kris Humphries, in October, reality star Kim Kardashian told how she moved back in with her mother. Now the 31-year-old says she's looking forward to "just having a really good 2012 and soaking in all the lessons learned in 2011".
"Once you decide to divorce, there's no reason why you shouldn't both find happiness with someone else, provided you learned from the mistakes of your first marriage," says author Stone, herself divorced.
"It's very easy for people to say, 'For God's sake, it's only been a few months' -- and maybe some of these couples do give up too soon -- but some people simply aren't cut out for marriage. Whether you decide to stay or go, you have to do so with conviction and enthusiasm."
Wedding, splitting and reuniting in the space of a month, no one could accuse Sinéad O'Connor of being unenthusiastic about getting back with her fourth husband, addiction counsellor Barry Herridge.
Yesterday, the euphoric mum of four tweeted: "Guess who had a mad love making affair with her own husband last night?
"We decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend again an stay married but we did rush so we gonna return to b friend g friend an be sickeningly happy an go counselling an move in in like a yr like regular people . . . but stay married an we all in love."
So what does Beverley Stone think of Sinead's rollercoaster romance?
"Sixteen days isn't a long time to give your marriage, so it's good that they're taking more time to work on their relationship," she says.
"It sounds like they're both willing to admit some wrongdoing for their speedy break-up, so hopefully they can come to a compromise on how to live happily together."
Fourteen months after they tied the knot in a lavish Indian ceremony, sadly the same can't be said for Russell Brand and Katy Perry.
On December 30 Brand conceded: "Sadly, Katy and I are ending our marriage. I'll always adore her and I know we'll remain friends."
At least Katy and Kim are in stylish company -- Demi Moore, Zooey Deschanel and Lea Michele are just some of the other newly single starlets in 2012.
"In many ways, it's easier for celebrity couples like Russell and Katy or Kim and Kris to divorce," reckons Stone. "They don't have the financial worries of a regular couple and there are no children involved -- although I firmly believe that it's much better for a child to have two happy, single parents than married, warring ones.
"Celebrity culture views divorce as just another stage in a relationship, so it's much easier for these couples to cross the Rubicon without fear of judgment," she adds. "Of course, it's a shame they're getting divorced but there's a lesson in there for all of us not to worry about what other people think.
"Ultimately, you have to be a little bit selfish and do what's right for you."
Stay or Leave? Six Steps to Resolving Your Relationship Indecision by Beverley Stone is out today , €10.20.