Couples Are More Likely To Divorce After Going On Family Vacations

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald September 23, 04:37 am
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After analyzing divorce filings between 2001 and 2015, researchers found that the number of filings surged in March and August, which are months that follow winter and summer holidays. Despite the merriment and optimism that holidays brings, it is also a time when couples become stressed and emotionally stretched, which then exposes the already existing cracks in the marriage.
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Troubled couples go away for the holidays with their children in an attempt to mend the marriage and reconnect with each other. A new study, however, found that these vacations tend to push troubled couples towards divorce rather than rekindling their love and commitment to each other.

According to a research published in August after being conducted by sociologists from the University of Washington, there is a "seasonal, biannual pattern" of divorce filings. After analyzing divorce filings between 2001 and 2015, the researchers found that the number of filings surged in March and August, which are months that follow winter and summer holidays.

These vacations (e.g. Christmas holidays and camping or hiking trips with the kids) appear to be highlighting couples' tensions and conflicts. Julie Brines, an associate sociology professor, said that married couples have the tendency to "face the holidays with rising expectations" even though they felt disappointments in the marriage in recent years. Holidays have an optimistic air around them and often represent periods in the year when change and new beginnings occur.

Despite the hope and merriment that the holiday spirit brings, it is also a time when couples become stressed and emotionally stretched, which then exposes the already existing cracks in the marriage. Thus, unhappy couples feel disappointment when the vacations don't live up to what they expect, pushing them to realize that their marriage is beyond repair and it's time to divorce.

Divorce filings often occur in August, which is after the family vacation and before children return to school. As for why divorce risk also increases in March (a few months after the winter holidays), Brines said that it's because some couples devote all those months to fixing the family's finances, finding a lawyer, and summoning the courage to actually push through with the divorce.

The same factors apply in the summer period, too. But the divorce peak in August can also be attributed to the start of the school year, which pushes couples with children to make haste with the proceedings.

In the United States, the divorce rate is 3.2 per 1,000 in the 45 reporting states and in the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A research estimated that 40 to 50 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages in the country will be divorced. The risk factors of divorce include: marrying at a young age, low educational attainment, low income, premarital cohabitation, premarital childbearing and pregnancy, insecurity about oneself and one's self-worth, no religious affiliation, and parents' divorce.

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