In legal circles, January is ominously referred to as “Divorce Month” – and for many states, the numbers don’t lie. Divorce lawyers across the country prep for a spike in business at the beginning of each year, simply because they know what to expect.
For example, in 2008, the state of Washington saw 2,824 divorce filings in January, while most other months float between 1,500 and 2,000.
These higher-than-normal divorce rates continue on into February and March, but the trend stays the same: the new year seems to be a time when couples want to call it quits.
There are plenty of reasons that could be contributing to the above average numbers, from the financial stress of the holidays to the extra time spent together (and around each other’s extended families), from “resolutions” to move on from a problematic marriage to seasonal depression that can come with the long winter months.
While the actual reasons vary from couple to couple, it’s no real surprise that this time of year can put a strain on marriages. Many divorce filings occur right around the time that kids head back to school and adults head back to work after the holiday break.
Maybe it’s that shock of going back to the “real world” after a stressful holiday season that prompts people to file for divorce, as well as some sense of responsibility not to “disrupt the holiday” with such a devastating blow to the family.
Whatever the unique reasons may be, though, the fact remains that January is a high-risk time for divorce. Fortunately for you, there are a few ways to overcome the pressure of the holidays and make sure you don’t become a part of the statistics.
Simply being aware of the “high-risk” time of year can help. Understand that there are a lot of factors at play, and that your stress and dissatisfaction with your marriage may be influenced by other concerns in your life – particularly those that add pressure around the holidays.
If you can segment out what’s actually happening, and remember that many couples feel strained around this time of year, you may be more inclined to think twice before making a drastic decision.
If this holiday season has been especially hard on your marriage, don’t just go into the new year with the same old problems. Stop the problems dead in their tracks by refusing to let another day go by before you give them a good examination.
Before you get back into your old routines, take this opportunity to address whatever problems you’re experiencing in your marriage, and get started on developing solutions immediately. If you don’t address the issues directly, they will just continue. If things are rough now, don’t let it go any further.
3. Put In The Work
After you recognize that you’ve got some problems in your marriage, the next step is putting in the work to get your marriage back on track. As you may know from some of our other material, there are a few key ways to help you do exactly that.
First, spend quality time together. That means no screens, no distractions, just spending time together without digging up old problems – just connecting with one another and remembering why you fell in love in the first place.
Next, get real about the problems. Instead of being defensive, looking for excuses, or blaming issues on each other, take responsibility for your words and actions and own up to your part in whatever the trouble may be. Unless you’re honest with yourself and your spouse, you won’t be able to make progress toward a happier and healthier marriage.
It’s ok to start small – to work on one good habit at a time, to tackle one issue at a time, and to just make gradual strides forward. Pick something you want to improve and go from there. If you’re both working together to calmly and openly admit to faults, develop new habits and behaviors, and support each other through changes, things can only improve!
Don’t let your marriage become another “Divorce Month” statistic – face your problems head on and start building your healthy marriage RIGHT NOW.