The dangers of travelling with your spouse - holiday season peak time for divorce

To everything there is a season — even divorce, according to new research.

How you gonna be mad on vacation? Photo / 123RF
How you gonna be mad on vacation? Photo / 123RF

To everything there is a season — even divorce, according to new research.

Sociologists from the University of Washington claim they have found the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal pattern of divorce.

After analysing divorce filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015, they found divorce peaked in holiday season

Associate professor Julie Brines says a holiday can expose "fissures" in a marriage.

She says holidays can be emotionally charged and stressful for many couples and when they don't live up to expectations it creates disillusionment in an already unhappy relationship.

"People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointment 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.

"They're very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture," she said.

If the family holiday doesn't ignite renewed passion and commitment then spouses will be quick to file for divorce before the kids go back to school.

This trend is not just seen in the US.

In Australia, many married couples tend to separate just before or after the Christmas holiday period, according to relationships expert Dr Karen Phillip.

Just hoping a holiday will fix a relationship isn't going to work. Couples should be using the time to have a conversation about the state of their marriage, says Dr Phillip.

But unfortunately many couples don't know how to do this.

"So, one of them will get a bit upset and distressed, then one will react back and then an argument will start."

Dr Phillip strongly suggests couples experiencing trouble speak to a professional counsellor to get strategies on what language to use before entering the highly emotional Christmas season.

"Even changing one word like 'but' to 'and' can have such a profound effect on the outcome of the conversation."

"And there's lots and lots of those little things that make such a difference within the communication of two people if they're really struggling to get their relationship back on track."

- news.com.au

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