Statistically, many couples with troubled marriages stick together through the holiday season, only to separate in the early part of the year. University of Washington researchers reviewed divorce filing data from 2011 to 2015 and found that March is the most common month to file and December the least common month, with a steady increase beginning in January.

If you are considering divorce, explore the reasons for this trend as November and December approach.

Keeping the peace

Some couples who struggled all year may decide to split up in the summer but wait until after the holidays to avoid disrupting family traditions. This scenario is especially common for parents, who want to prevent the disruption of the new school year and the winter holidays for their children.

Holiday hopes

When a marriage is failing, the partners may believe they can right the ship by spending time together over the holidays. For example, they may imagine the relationship will improve after lighting the tree, drinking the eggnog and exchanging expensive gifts. When the magic fails to materialize, however, January brings renewed interest in divorce.

Seasonal stress

The societal and familial pressures associated with the holiday season may push couples to a breaking point. A busy holiday schedule may conflict with extended relations, and outsized expectations for family fun can exacerbate existing issues in the marriage. Stress can cause misunderstandings, anger and resentment that make it difficult for the couple to continue in the marriage.

New year, new you

If one partner has long felt dissatisfied in the marriage, he or she may resolve to make big changes in the new year. This could explain the influx of filings when January rolls around. The idea of a fresh start may bring about people choosing this major life change.

Whatever the reason you are thinking about divorce, the holidays can be difficult if your marriage is ending. Consider seeking counseling with your partner to resolve underlying issues before making a final decision.