The Huffington Post recently did a feature interview with Laura Wasser, celebrity divorce attorney and author, and among the topics they discussed, one very scary statistic came out.
According to Wasser, the busiest day of her entire year is her first day back from the holiday break. This means, simply put, that divorce rates spike after the streak of holidays from Thanksgiving to the New Year.
Wasser isn’t the only one who notices this – the same statistics show up on many divorce lawyer blogs, and within marriage studies as well.
It’s not hard to understand why this happens. The holidays can be a hectic time with extended family, travel plans, increased expenses, and a whole range of potentially stressful commitments to navigate. If a marriage isn’t going very well, these stressors are exponentially more damaging.
After the holidays are over, many unhappy couples may simply resign to never go through the process again, heading straight for divorce as their only way out. Many people’s emotional concerns are amplified over the holiday season, making arguments worse, sadness feel deeper, and feelings of isolation or separation from a spouse all the more apparent.
Because this can be such a rocky time for couples already facing problems, there’s also the tendency to look at the New Year as a “fresh start” away from the difficult relationship.
Now that we understand why this happens, what can be done about it?
First, couples who have been experiencing problems can go into the holiday season with a clear understanding that it can be a very stressful time of year. By recognizing this up front, they can be more prepared to deal with stress constructively, letting the hassles of gift buying, event planning, and travel arrangements roll of their backs as symptoms of the season – and not develop into conflicts.
On the even more preventative side of things, simply changing your approach to holiday planning can make all the difference!
Instead of looking at the several week stretch from Thanksgiving to the New Year as a time of chaotic planning and extra expenses, think about it in terms of your family and your marriage.
Chances are, you’ll have some time off work, and whether this time is spent at home or at holiday/family events, it’s a perfect chance to spend some quality time with your spouse. The holidays offer a break from the routine of the rest of the year, so treat it like a vacation!
Even if there are lots of things to accomplish, it’s ok to take some time for yourself, and take some time for your marriage.
We should be using these special days of the year to get closer with our loved ones, to make happy memories, and to strengthen the relationships with the people we care about most. The gifts, the trips, the decorations – all of that is secondary to the stability and happiness of your marriage and family. Align your priorities to make the most of the holiday season.
It’s important to know when certain scenarios push our buttons, and to see those stressors for what they are: outside forces that don’t need to negatively impact relationships.
Divorce rates don’t need to spike after the holidays. Remember to keep things in perspective this holiday season. Use your time together to strengthen your marriage and share quality time. Don’t become a statistic!