Every month has at least one theme, and since there are more initial filings for divorce during the month of January than any other month, I recommend we dub January “National Divorce Month.” On a more serious note, I don’t find this statistic surprising as there are a number of significant factors that I believe contribute to this fact. The majority of them are based upon the extraordinary circumstances people find themselves in during the holiday season.
Holiday pressure leads to filing for divorce in January
These days, the holiday season isn’t about love or family or faith, it’s about gifts. Advertisements and societal expectations often lead people to a purchasing frenzy. They believe that every friend, family member, colleague, and teacher must receive a holiday gift, regardless of the overall cost. This marketing pressure places a huge financial burden on people, many of whom are struggling to get by on what they make.
Numerous studies have shown that money is often the main source of conflict between a couple. When one person is conservative with their finances and investments and the other one spends freely, money not only serves as a source of contentment, but it can also make smaller issues appear bigger. The immense holiday spending may be the last straw for a couple already struggling to make their marriage work.
Spending too much time with family during the holidays leads to filing for divorce in January
The holiday season places great importance on spending time with family members. As we all know, we can pick our friends, but we can’t pick our family. For many of us, if we could pick our family, we’d replace many of the family members we currently have. Even if we’ve made peace with those who we’ve disagreed with in the past or if we’ve accepted them for who they are, spending an extended amount of time around certain family members, especially when they’re your spouse’s blood relatives, can overwhelm and infuriate the best of us.
Families easily return to their old, dysfunctional interactional patterns. Family members often take their words and actions, and the implications of those words and actions, for granted. They don’t make the effort to be polite or considerate because there’s typically an underlying assumption that family members are easily forgiven. Every family has its own particular pattern of dysfunction, so increasing the frequency and intensity of contact with large, extended families often creates a lot of unnecessary, and frequently unavoidable, stress.
Reflecting on the past year leads to filing for divorce in January
The end of a year leads many people to take stock of what occurred during the past 12 months and what they would like to change moving forward. During this process, people typically focus the majority of their attention on the most important relationships in their lives. Therefore, periods of reflection often feature an added emphasis on unresolved issues with their spouse. If the relationship with their spouse is not good and appears to be getting worse, they may spend a lot of time pondering the relationship’s future.
All of these stressors, as well as others not discussed here, frequently lead people to decide that they will make a major life change in the coming year. Some may decide to pursue couple’s therapy, while others may file for divorce. Those who choose to begin divorce proceedings should be prepared for very difficult times ahead. The divorce process is typically long, difficult, costly, and emotionally taxing.