As the holiday season approaches, it brings with it a magical atmosphere of joy, celebration and togetherness. However, for many couples, this time of year can also be a critical juncture for their relationship.
The holiday season can sometimes pull a shaky marriage back together – or break it apart. Divorce filings consistently peak around certain times of the year, and a sudden increase in new filings in early March every year often represents couples who decided to split during or shortly after the winter holidays.
Why do the holidays have such tremendous power to affect marital stability?
Expectations and hopes may or may not align with reality
The holiday season often comes with high expectations fueled by media portrayals of perfect family gatherings and couples in love. This can give couples who are feeling like their marriage may be withering the incentive to try again. As one researcher put it, the holidays may “represent an opportunity to test things out one last time.”
Some couples may actually be successful, especially if the root of their discord is something that can be addressed through a little more communication and time together. If both parties put in a little extra effort, it can be enough to reseal the cracks in their marital foundation.
Unfortunately, the actual reality of the holiday season isn’t that conducive to romance. Couples may find themselves grappling with the pressure to create the ideal festive experience, leading to stress (and the feeling that promises have once again been broken) when reality doesn’t match these expectations.
Some of the negatives of the holiday season that contribute to a divorce include:
- Financial pressure: All that holiday festivity and romance comes at a price. Gift-giving and travel, too, can put a strain on the family finances. If a couple already has disagreements over money, that could aggravate tensions even further and create significant resentment.
- Emotional triggers: Not every family is a happy family, and spending time with extended relatives during the holidays can put a strain on a couple. This can particularly create strain if one spouse feels like the other doesn’t establish clear expectations and boundaries with their side of the family.
- Time pressures: It’s easy to get overcommitted during the holiday season between social gatherings, year-end work responsibilities, shopping, cooking and more. If one spouse is already feeling neglected, that won’t improve the situation.
It’s no wonder that some marriages simply crumble under the weight of the holidays. If that happens to you, or you think it is a possibility, it may be time to learn more about the divorce process by seeking legal guidance proactively.