University of Washington study quantifies a common assumption about divorce
Splits follow a fairly recognizable logic
There’s long been evidence that there are certain times of year that are popular for divorce. But passive-aggressive Facebook drama isn’t exactly quantifiable data, so a new study from the University of Washington has provided some actual numbers to support the trend.
Researchers from the university plotted the number of divorce filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015. The results show two very specific yearly peaks in March and August, a high plateau between these times and a significant drop in the fall months. Let’s call it the “Cat of Sadness.”
According to experts, the reason for the seasons boil down to common sense. Julie Brines, an associate sociology profession at UW who coauthored the study, says the patterns mirror a “domestic ritual calendar.”
Let’s say you’re a person who wants to get divorced. When do you pull the trigger? Certainly not around the holiday months. What are you, a monster? Spring might be better, but the kids are still in school, and frankly, that’s a mess you’d like to avoid.
“People don’t want to be accused by friends, family that they were heartless right before Christmas,” family and divorce lawyer Miles Mason told CNN in 2014.
A time to laugh, a time to weep
Summer vacations, tax time and the whole “New Year, New Me” trope are other calendar indicators that may affect when people entertain the notion of the big D. In fact, these trends don’t just tell us about which times are convenient for people. They also reveal theoretical breaking points.
Brines contends that a rise in divorce filings may represent the moment people simply stop thinking it’s going to get better. “People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” she said in a University of Washington statement.
When the holidays fail to reinvigorate that happy family feeling, people may finally take the plunge.
“If somebody is coming to us in January, they made the decision to come see me or a lawyer before the holidays,” Mason said in 2014.
While you digest that happy thought, married people, rest assured your relationship is pretty safe. For the next few months, at least.