The leaves are turning, the air is brisk, the kids are going back to school… and divorce rates are rising. A study from the University of Washington has found that divorce rates are seasonal, and tend to worsen following the holidays.
Researchers Julie Brines and Brian Serafini found that divorce rates in Washington are highest in August and March, following summer and winter vacations. Brines suggested that unhappy couples might see a vacation together as a way to salvage their relationship. If things don’t work out as planned, a divorce may soon follow.
Unfortunately, vacations are not always as relaxing as we hope they will be. Prolonged periods of time together may exacerbate a couple’s problems instead of solving them, and a trip can even bring up new causes for divorce—such as financial issues or infidelity.
“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” said Brines. “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. It’s like an optimism cycle, in a sense. They’re very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture.”
The researchers found that other family court actions such as guardianship rulings also follow this seasonal pattern, which bolsters their hypothesis that the rise in divorce is vacation-related.
Does this mean you should cancel your next romantic getaway? There’s no need to go that far. Simply remember that while holidays can bring us closer, they shouldn’t be used as a Band-Aid over a serious marital problem. It’s always best to make the time to talk through issues as they arise instead of making a last-ditch effort to salvage a marriage while on vacation.