Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Is January the Divorce Season?

January, not April, is the cruelest month.

Is the first month of the year the saddest for couples?

Experts say that there is a spike in calls to divorce lawyers after the lull of the winter holidays. Couples hope that the romance of the sumptuous feasts, cocktail parties, carolling on a brisk winter's night, family gatherings, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and a one horse open sleigh at Christmas and the big countdown to the midnight kiss at a glitzy, champagne-soaked New Years Eve party might somehow resuscitate their moribund marriage. For those in mirage relationships the union moves in the Resigned Compliance Stage from the Disillusionment phase to Crisis.

Famous divorce lawyer Raoul Felder said that his schedule is so jammed with clients seeking dissolutions of their marriages in January that he has to schedule late into the evening. Lawyer Sue Moss likewise said, "It's like tax season for us...December is dead, and then as soon as the ball drops, the phone starts ringing and it doesn't stop." Bernard Rothman, counsel to Sankel, Skurman & McCartin LLP in New York, said, "Generally the calls fall off just before Thanksgiving and pick up again on January 2." Chicago attorney and author Jeffrey Leving said that the Legal Services Commission recognizes January and February as the busiest months for divorce, noting that "couples have false expectations. They think miracles will happen during the holidays, especially when children are involved."

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Donna Ferber, a Farmington, Connecticut therapist with a specialty in life transitions, stated that "people ruminate throughout the year" before deciding the appropriate time to drop the earth-shattering decision on their partner, and the fresh start of January often seems best so their children won't associate the divorce with the holiday season.  Moneyweek Editor-in-Chief Merryn Somerset Webb summed it up succinctly: "Some of us will hit the New Year pretty certain that we don't ever want to have to spend another Christmas with exactly the same lot of family ever again."

 

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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