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Do family vacations increase the chance of divorce?

If you’ve ever gone on a vacation, chances are you’ve experienced the post-vacation blues. After having the time of your life in a new place, it can be difficult to go back to monotonous “normal” life. Unfortunately, the post-vacation blues do not always go away without consequences. In fact, a recent study suggests that family vacations can pose a danger to marriages.

Researchers from the University of Washington analyzed marital data and found that divorce is actually a seasonal phenomenon. Divorce rates tend to spike during the periods that follow summer and winter vacations. More specifically, divorce rates are consistently highest during August and March. The researchers concluded that a “domestic ritual” calendar, which determines the behavior of a family, may also influence divorce. In some cases, vacations may magnify conflicts and tensions for married couples.

Why do family vacations increase the chance of divorce?

Professor Julie Brines suggested that couples in conflict may look forward to the holidays as the best time to improve their relationship. Troubled couples may also believe that the holidays will be a time for happiness and to forget about the tension and conflicts that currently plague the relationship. However, many of these couples discover that the holidays can actually be even more stressful and emotionally charged. The holidays may exuberate issues and expose the problems within a marriage.

When vacation and the holidays fail to meet their high expectations, these individuals may feel desolate. Spouses then consciously make a decision to get a divorce in August, which is when the kids go back to school. Individuals tend to have high expectations for holidays and vacations even if they have experienced disappointments in the past. The holidays often represent a new start or at least something different from “normal” life.

The researchers found that divorce rates increase in March, which is just a few months after Christmas and New Year’s Day. Brine suggests that obstacles such as finding an attorney and getting finances in order may prevent couples from filing for a divorce until a few months after the holidays.

Aren’t there other factors that may play a role?

In order to rule out other factors that may influence the divorce rate, researchers studied the divorce rates in Washington and took employment, economic stability, and other factors into account. However, even after accounting for these factors, the researchers still came across the same pattern. This pattern was very apparent from year to year and county to county. The researchers predicted that other family court actions would also exhibit the same trend if the pattern was attributable to the holidays. They studied court actions like guardianship rulings and found that this prediction was correct.

Undoubtedly, the takeaway from this study is that it is important to pay attention to your marriage all year long. Deal with conflicts and underlying tensions as soon as possible instead of waiting for the holidays and vacation to heal these wounds. For more information about divorce, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney from Burns & Hansen, PA.