Associate sociology Prof. Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini presented the findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle, WA.
The results of the research suggest that divorce filings could be driven by a “domestic ritual” calendar governing family behavior.
The team found that divorce consistently peaks during the months of August and March – times that follow winter and summer holidays.
Prof. Brines mentions that troubled couples may see the holidays as a time to mend relationships, and they might believe that if they have a happy Christmas or a successful camping trip, everything will be “fixed” and their lives will improve.
However, in reality, those periods of the year can be both emotionally charged and stressful for many, and they may expose cracks in a marriage. The seasonal nature of divorce filings may reflect the disillusionment unhappy spouses experience when vacation time does not live up to their high expectation, the research team points out.
New school year may influence divorce month in couples with children
“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” says Prof. 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,” she adds.
Couples may make a conscious decision to file for divorce in August, following the family vacation, and before the kids start back at school. Prof. Brines and colleagues examined the reason for the divorce spike in March. Given that March is a few months after the winter holidays, is there still a connection between divorce and vacations?
Prof. Brines suggests that while considerations for divorce are the same during both peak periods – sorting finances, finding an attorney, summoning the courage to go ahead – the start of the school year may hasten decisions for couples with children in August.
The divorce peak in March could also be influenced by the trend of a rise in suicides in spring. Experts also indicate that the extra daylight and increased activity during that time of year elevates mood enough to motivate people to act.
Source: Medical news today