24 August 2016
Sociologists at the University of Washington have suggested that divorce may be associated with seasons, peaking after summer and winter periods.
Associate sociology professor, Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini presented a findings at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle, which suggests that divorce filings could be driven by a “domestic ritual” calendar governing family behaviour.
The team found that divorce consistently peaks during the months of August and March – times that follow summer and winter holidays.
Professor Brines opines that couples who have troubled marriages are always optimistic of having an improved relationship with summer holidays approaching. The reality, however, is that those periods of the year can be both emotionally charged and stressful for many, and they may expose cracks in a marriage.
The seasonal nature of divorce filings may reflect the couple’s frustration following a disastrous summer trip and camping knowing full well that it would a take a full year before they could take a shot at improving their relationship again.
“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments 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,” Professor Brines said.
Couples may make a conscious decision to file for divorce in August, following family vacation, and before the kids start back at school.
However, Prof. Brines and colleagues also tried to examine the reason for the divorce spike in March.
Prof. Brines suggests that while considerations for divorce are the same during both peak periods – sorting finances, finding an attorney, summoning the courage to go ahead – the start of the school year may hasten decisions for couples with children in August.
The divorce peak in March could also be influenced by the trend of a rise in suicides in spring.
Experts also indicate that the extra daylight and increased activity during that time of year elevates mood enough to motivate people to act.
Examining divorce filings throughout Washington, the team noticed monthly variations with the pattern of heightened filings emerging in March and August.
“It was very robust from year to year, and very robust across counties,” Prof. Brines explained.
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.