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Studies shed light on 'seasonal' divorce trends

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Longstanding research suggests that almost half of all marriages in England and Wales end in divorce – but more recent studies argue that separation is most common during certain ‘seasons’ or months of the year.

New UK research suggests that January and September typically give rise to the greatest spike in divorce enquiries, while a US study carried out by the University of Washington adds that divorce filings follow ‘seasonal’ trends, and often peak during the periods directly following the winter and summer holidays.

Family therapist and author of self-help book Ultimate Confidence, Marisa Peer, suggests that such seasonal trends can be attributed to “disappointing” holidays or breaks from work – where unrealistic expectations of how holidays should be spent can spark arguments between couples, particularly those who are suddenly spending a lot of extra time together, or perhaps not enough due to family commitments.

She says: “During the holidays we spend enforced time with people and it can be very stressful. Christmas is an example of this – we spend weeks preparing for it and trying to make it perfect and then the day arrives and often people deeply resent their spouse if they feel they haven’t lived up to the expectations, haven’t made the day amazing or have contributed to it not being amazing”.

Ms Peer suggests that summer holiday arguments and subsequent relationship breakdowns can often be attributed to similarly unrealistic expectations.

“With summer holidays, we expect it to be blissful and we respond to media images. In reality, it doesn’t reflect real life and just leaves people feeling terribly disappointed,” she says.

“Often, couples find that being in a hotel for two weeks with someone can irritate you.

“You can’t escape to work and the enforced closeness can highlight all the things you don’t like about your partner, rather than the other way round”.