As any couple rushing to the airport or mixing up their hotel dates will tell you, vacations can be very stressful times. Unfortunately, it appears the statistics also agree that these periods of supposed unwinding can cause undue pressure on relationships. A recent study has suggested the pattern of marital break-ups is strongly linked to seasonal holidays.
Overall, the months of March and August consistently saw the highest divorce rates, leading the researchers to suggest that this could be a delayed result of Christmas holidays and summer vacations – times when couples try to "fix" their relationships by taking holidays. They noted it takes two to three months to find attorneys, file the paperwork, arrange finances, and even to mount the courage.
The study by associate professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini looked at monthly divorce rates from different counties in Washington. Their findings were recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle.
The study actually started as an investigation into the effect of the recession on divorce rates. However, they started to notice that seasonal divorce rates retained this pattern regardless of the other factors they studied, such as the housing market and unemployment rates.
"It was very robust from year to year, and very robust across counties," said lead researcher Professor Julie Brines, according to Medical News Today.
They also looked at data for Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona, and found the exact same trend. These trends were particularly poignant since Ohio had above average unemployment rates after the economic recession and Florida and Arizona suffered from the real estate market collapse.
In an attempt to explain this trend, Professor Brines said: "People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past.
"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," she added. "It's like an optimism cycle, in a sense. They're very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture."
Unfortunately, when those moments don't live up to expectation or fix marital problems, couples begin the process of separation.
Of course, the reasons for divorce are multifaceted and complicated, with every relationship unique. This study isn't suggesting that holidays are the cause of divorce, just that they could be linked to the surge in divorce rates during the months of March and August.