As the annual winter holidays loom so too does the threat of stress that can lead the breakdown of marriage, a US study predicts. Ironically, it seems to be due to the fact that holiday periods represent the opportunity for new beginnings and something a little different to the norm.
The study led by Professor Julie Brines, who is a sociologist based at the University of Washington, involved an examination by scientists of divorce filing patterns over a period of 14 years between 2001 and 2015. The researchers found that divorce patterns:
- Peaked in August after the mid-year holidays
- And they peaked again in March, which seemed to relate to the Christmas-New Year break
Why the Holidays Affect Marriages
It’s largely speculation on the part of researchers, but the fact that divorce rates seem to spike after annual summer and winter holidays could be due to a number of factors. According to the study, it could be because:
- Divorce is caused by the stress that follows financial restraints caused during the holidays, especially Christmas.
- Couples don’t want to file for divorce or even separation during holiday periods that are generally important to family life.
- Holidays often don’t live up to the expectations of a new beginning that is often set by married couples. Researchers called this “an optimism cycle”.
- In northern countries, where Christmas is cold and the days dark and long, it could be that couples wait until spring (ironically a time of new beginnings) to end their marriages.
- The seasonal pattern embodies other factors including the housing market and unemployment, both of which can impact on the motivation of couples to get a divorce.
According to Professor Brines, the link between divorce and the holiday seasons is very similar in different states – specifically Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio. Also, there is a similar pattern whether couples file via mail or appear in a court of law. Also, there appears to be a similar pattern for guardianship filings after the bi-annual holidays.
Property disputes, on the other hand, didn’t show similar patterns. This could be because property issues aren’t as close to family life as divorce is.
Perhaps the real reason is that tension between couples will simply get worse during holiday periods because there aren’t the usual daily distractions like work to keep them from focusing on the reality of a marriage on the rocks!
Waggoner Hastings Family & Collaborative Law is a law firm based in Georgia that specializes on divorce planning and compassionate family law. If you need advice, call us now for a consultation.