To everything there is a season, as the Byrds and the Bible say, and according to researchers at the University of Washington, that includes divorce. Apparently, there are two times of year when it's much more common for couples to split up.
Sociologists weren't even looking for a pattern when they discovered prime de-mating season. While looking at the effects of the recession, the researchers studied the divorce statistics from the state of Washington between 2001 and 2015, and found there were some specific times when the filings peaked.
Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini found this biannual spike based on quantitative evidence.
According to the sociologists, divorce filings have consistently peaked in March and August over the past fourteen years.
Interestingly, these periods come just after the big family holidays. "Winter and summer holidays are culturally sacred times for families," Brines says, "When filing for divorce is considered inappropriate, even taboo."
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. It’s like an optimism cycle, in a sense.
But once the holidays prove themselves to be disappointing, sh*t gets real.
But holidays are also emotionally charged and stressful for many couples and can expose fissures in a marriage. The consistent pattern in filings, the researchers believe, reflects the disillusionment unhappy spouses feel when the holidays don’t live up to expectations.
Christmas sucked? Fourth of July less than jolly? That makes it easier to see the end.
But why wait until March if Christmas was traumatic? The sociologists suspect it's so that families have time to get their finances in order, and starting school at the end of August might hasten the process in the summer.
Good news for couples on edge: August is almost over. And you have plenty of time to get your finances in order for a March divorce.