Do you believe there are only four seasons in a year? The researchers from the University of Washington will prove you wrong: They have found a season of divorce too.
Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini found what is believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce.
The researchers analysed filings in Washington State between 2001 and 2015 and found that they peaked in March and August — the periods following winter and summer holidays.
Their research, presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle, suggests that divorce filings may be driven by a “domestic ritual” calendar governing family behaviour.
Winter and summer holidays are culturally sacred times for families, Brines said, when filing for divorce is considered inappropriate, even taboo.
“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” Brines said.
“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,” Brines added.
At the same time, holidays are also emotionally charged and stressful for many couples and can expose fissures in a marriage.
Couples may decide to file for divorce in August, following the family vacation and before the kids start school.