‘Romantic realism’: the seven rules to help you avoid divorce

The new year is peak time for breakups. But the emotional skills that help a relationship endure can be learned

We expect love to be the source of our greatest joys. But, in practice, it is one of the most reliable routes to misery. Few forms of suffering are ever as intense as those we experience in relationships. An estimated 42% of marriages in Britain end in divorce; 30% of people in couples describe themselves as “actively unhappy but unable to leave”.

The new year can be gloomy – one in five divorces are filed in January. But we can at least try to understand our sorrows. This does not magically remove problems, but it sets them in context, reduces our sense of isolation and helps us to accept that certain problems are normal.

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Alex Vidal