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Why the Holiday Season Leads to an Increase in Divorces

For many, the holiday season is a time of joy, cheer, and excitement. Some couples even report feeling happier and closer to their partner during the holiday seasons. Must be all the cheerful songs, tasty treats, and Hallmark movies, right? With all that good cheer, you wouldn’t think there would be very many holiday divorces, right?

Think again. While that’s great for those who get that jolly and bright experience, the holiday season can be extremely stressful and challenging for other couples, to the point where studies have shown that the divorce rate spikes immediately following the holidays. In fact, many family law attorneys refer to January as “divorce month” for exactly that reason. In this month’s article, we’ll look at some factors that go into that, and explore why this phenomenon seems to occur each year. Here are some of the leading causes of post-holiday divorces.

Holiday Stress

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can also be extremely stressful. For many, the holiday season means an increase in expenditures due to gift-buying and travel. With financial concerns being one of the leading divorce factors in the US, this seasonal strain can negatively impact couples who are already dealing with financial concerns. In these cases, the added expense can be the final straw that leads to the end of the marriage, or can further push struggling relationships to the brink.

On top of the financial stress that comes with the holidays, there’s also the balancing act of meeting familial expectations, coordinating travel, finding common ground on what activities, events, and festivities to observe together (or separately, for that matter), and even which faith to adhere to. Combine any of these with a relationship that is already faltering, and it can be a recipe for disaster.

Infidelity Temptation

Piggybacking off the notion of holiday stress negatively impacting the closeness of couples, one other common factor that impacts divorce rates this time of year is the added temptation that can lead to infidelity.

Now, we’re not saying this time of year is like Spring Break at South Padre or a wild night out in Vegas, but there are socially expected events this time of the year that can offer temptation to those already in strained, stressed, or unfulfilled relationships. For example, most businesses have some sort of holiday party – usually involving corporate-provided liquor – which have led to more than a handful of bad decisions and regrets over the years. Most infidelity involves someone the partner is already familiar with – such as an old friend or coworker – so the combination of holiday parties and booze can occasionally spike some of these types of relationship killers.

Banking on a Holiday Miracle

If we’re honest, few relationships break apart in one singular, instantaneous moment. Instead, it’s more akin to lingchi, or death by a thousand cuts. It’s a slow and gradual progression of two people in different directions. That means that it’s unlikely that a relationship that ends after the holidays is strictly tied to the season. Rather, it’s more likely that the relationship was already on rocky ground, but the partners were hoping for some holiday magic to help restore the relationship.

Let’s be clear – if you’re in this boat and you’re holding out hope for some holiday magic to save your marriage – you shouldn’t be. While there are probably some examples of turnarounds happening at holiday time, they don’t happen because of the holiday. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie, and relationship magic takes hard work and commitment, not tired clich├ęs and Hollywood fiction. Addressing this head on might help save you from a massive letdown ending in a post-holiday divorce.

Keeping Up Appearances Until The Season is Over

While there may be some relationships headed for divorce that are hoping for a Christmas miracle, there are others headed for divorce with no disillusion of the destination. That being said, there is always a cultural expectation of family togetherness during the holiday season, so some couples choose to put on a happy face and go with the grin-and-bear-it approach until after the holidays are over. This can be because they want to keep the holidays happy for children in the family, or because they simply don’t want to deal with their pending divorce (and the questions it inevitably brings) during holiday dinners and events with extended family.

Regardless, this tendency to try to avoid the hard conversations at the holiday season do tend to contribute to the notion that more relationships end in January than any other time of the year.

How to Handle Holiday Divorces

Whether it’s the holiday stress or the desire to keep up appearances and deal with the issues at hand later, there’s no denying that the holidays tend to impact many relationships in negative ways. Post-holiday divorces are becoming more and more common, and addressing the issues head-on may be the best option. Whatever your issues, if you’re in a marriage that you need to escape, contact the family law specialists at the Gilbert Law Office. We offer supportive, compassionate, and reliable family law services and will help you ensure that you get the most ideal outcome from your divorce.