January Is Famously "Divorce Month"—Here's How You Can Avoid It
Experts explain how the new year can make or break your marriage.
The start of the new year is a chance for new beginnings, but for many people, it also means an ending. Over the years, anecdotal evidence from attorneys and couples has shown that more people start divorce proceedings in January than any other month, according to Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and media advisor of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. As a result, January has been dubbed "Divorce Month" by experts.
"Given the new year and the end of the holidays, it would make sense why some individuals start divorce proceedings during this month," Lira de la Rosa says. "Some people want to go into the new year with a fresh start and others may have had the holidays to reflect on their lives and realize that they are not happy in their respective relationships."
Kristyn Carmichael, a licensed divorce attorney and professional family mediator based out of Arizona, confirms that the amount of people reaching out about divorce proceedings drastically increases at the beginning of the year. But according to Carmichael, most separations (no matter the time of the year) boil down to at least one of three reasons: finances, expectations, and communication.
All of these issues can be fixed as long as both partners are willing to put in the work. So instead of looking at January as a justification for giving up on your marriage, experts suggest treating this month as a chance to revitalize your relationship. Read on to discover four tips experts say you can use to avoid falling into the Divorce Month trap.
Check in with your partner.
Cracks in your relationship can start to rise to the surface after the holidays, according to Daniel Glazer, a London-based clinical psychologist and co-founder of US Therapy Rooms.
"Financial stress peaks after expensive celebrations and cabin fever sets in mid-winter," he warns. "It's the prime storm for relationships teetering on the edge to finally implode."
But January actually presents the perfect chance to reinforce the foundation of your relationship with your significant other, rather than abandoning the scaffolding altogether, according to Glazer.
"Use the new year momentum to check in on the state of your intimacy and alignment of priorities," he advises. "Have open conversations about what brings each partner joy, and discuss manageable goals like regular date nights to ensure both individuals in the relationship feel cared for in 2024."
Revaluate your relationship.
It's not just the fun parts you need to prioritize in January. In the last year, many of us may have gone through personal and professional changes that created some disruptions in the relationship, according to Lira de la Rosa. This might require you to "reevaluate the relationship" through uncomfortable conversations at the start of the new year.
"Talk about issues that you may be afraid to discuss," he recommends. "Otherwise, it is common for couples to experience resentment when these issues are not addressed."
Find new hobbies outside of your marriage.
It might seem counterproductive to look outside of your marriage in order to avoid separation. But Philadelphia-based psychologist Lauren Napolitano, PsyD, tells Best Life that couples who prioritize non-marriage-related New Year's resolutions may actually be bettering their relationship overall.
"This seems like an unlikely solution but putting your energy outside of your marriage tends to widen your social circle, which boosts happiness," Napolitano explains. "It also reduces the pressure on your spouse to meet all of your relationship needs."
Seek out couples counseling.
If you have been having issues with your spouse and are planning to seek out the advice of a divorce lawyer, Kristal DeSantis, LMFT, licensed therapist and author of Strong: A Relationship Field Guide for the Modern Man, suggests turning to a counselor first.
According to DeSantis, couples therapy is often seen as a "last-ditch effort to save a failing relationship," but it can also be a good way to reset your relationship in the new year.
"This might mean signing up for a weekend couples retreat or structuring your … work schedules to allow time for multiple couples therapy sessions in a week," she shares.
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