The holiday season is usually filled with optimism and excitement, but all of that can come crashing down in January when one-half of a couple suddenly announces that they want a divorce.
Every year, family law attorneys note that there’s a sudden surge in divorce inquiries in early January. While actual filings don’t pick up until about March, the first working day of the new year has earned the unofficial moniker of “National Divorce Day.”
Unresolved conflicts don’t disappear
What causes all of that family togetherness that’s so abundant during the holidays to suddenly fall apart? Nothing. In almost all cases, the marriage was already on life support when the holidays began – and the stress and the conflict can just escalate despite everyone’s best intentions to the contrary.
Generally speaking, there are several ways that the holiday experience tends to push couples who already are feeling conflicted about their marriages even further apart:
- Unrealistic expectations: The Hallmark movies make it seem like all relationship problems can be solved through the magic of the holidays, but all those happy endings are the result of a script, not real life. People fall into the trap of thinking that they can repair a relationship that’s already fractured with just a little holiday romance.
- Disagreements about celebrations: Family gatherings can be emotionally charged, and conflicts can arise due to differences in traditions, values and boundaries. When one spouse doesn’t listen to the other’s concerns or doesn’t have their back against extended family drama, the other may decide that they cannot continue the relationship.
- Financial pressures: Between gift-giving, travel expenses, family feasts and all the wrappings, the holiday season can be financially draining. Financial strain is a common source of marital stress – and that can be aggravated even further when one spouse is an over-generous “spender” and the other is a conservative “saver.” That can have one spouse calling the other a Grinch, while the other is labeled a wastrel.
If you’re already experiencing significant marital issues, don’t look to the holidays to resolve them. In fact, you may be doing yourself more of a service by investing your time and energy into learning more about your divorce rights and your options under the law.