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How the Holidays Contribute to Your Decision to Divorce

People who choose to divorce do not make the decision lightly. Indeed, there are many issues that may play a role. Often, one of the final determining factors for people considering divorce is the holiday season.

While many people consider the holiday season to be a time that unifies a family, it can also be the last straw for couples who are already struggling. In fact, research on divorce filings indicates this is often the case.

Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini at the University of Washington found there are biannual spikes in divorce filings: March and August. These findings highlight the taboo of filing for divorce during the winter and summer holidays, which leads to a delay in taking the first steps.

Holidays do not always bring harmony

Brines and Serafini point out that many troubled couples will see the holidays as a time to mend their relationship: Have a happy Christmas together and everything will improve.

“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” Brines said in their research. “They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life.”

As any family knows, however, the holidays are also a time filled with stress. While couples may hope the holidays will bring them back together, they may end up having the opposite effect. It can put a lot of pressure on the marriage to try making it work during such a high-stress period of the year.

But if this is the case, why are divorce filings spiking in March instead of January? Well, there may be a variety of reasons. For example, it may take some time to gain the courage to file for divorce, or they simply need more time to get everything organized.

If you are entering the holiday season while considering divorce, know that if things do not work out, you are not alone. Many couples are approaching the new year with the possibility of a new marital status.