Many like to start off the new year by setting resolutions and throwing around the phrase “new year, new me.” Some plan fitness goals and renew their annual gym membership, even though they mysteriously lose their gym fob come February. Some swear an oath to be punctual and organized, while others are a part of the pool of internet users causing words like “divorce” to trend on Google.
Some lawyers and sociologists explain why January has earned the nickname “‘divorce month.” Vicky Townsend, the co-founder and chief executive of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, claims, “divorce is seasonal.” Many married couples file for divorce in January because they decide in the months leading up and want one last holiday together as a family before starting their new year off with a fresh start.
Julie Brines, an associate professor, and Brian Serafini, a doctoral candidate, from the University of Washington did a study in 2016, presenting quantitative evidence of a seasonal pattern of divorce filings. Their analysis of filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015 showed that divorce rates peaked in March and August, the months following winter and summer holidays.
Although couples may contact their attorneys in January, it could take months for a filing to go through, which explains why the peak time is in March, just two months after “divorce month.” The holidays are a sacred time for families, says Brines, “when filing for divorce is considered inappropriate, even taboo.” This is one reason why couples postpone taking legal action for separation until after the holidays.
Many experts say that unhappy couples are consumed by the colourful light displays, festive activities, and multiple courses of divine cuisine, ultimately telling themselves there’s a chance everything will be okay. But what happens when people’s expectations for the holidays aren’t met?
Well, the clock strikes midnight on December 31st and reality sets in.
We interviewed several students on campus to investigate how this “break up” phenomenon affects younger relationships without marital commitment. Many will agree that when the new year begins, “cuffing season” is officially over, and it’s time to start “living your best life.” Maybe you are still young and don’t have to file for divorce, which makes this step less expensive for you, but by no means easier.
Third-year political science major Kayla Moore shares, “No one ever said it was easy to remove those initials and roman numerals from your Instagram bio. Deleting every post, tag, and comment with your ex-boo is even harder. In this day and age, once you do that, the whole world—or at least every Instagram feed-scrolling, BeReal-posting, and TikTok-watching person—will know when you have ended your relationship. There’s no privacy when your part-time job is being a social media influencer awaiting that blue checkmark.”
Nathan Tross, a fourth-year English major, says he broke up with his girlfriend after bringing her home for Christmas. “All was going well, she even offered to help my mom with the cooking, and to my surprise, she said she was a great cook.” He goes on to tell us that, long story short, “after waiting for what felt like hours for the honey-glazed ham roast in the oven, she opened the oven to find it’s cold. She insisted our oven must be broken. Upon inspection, I discovered she didn’t turn the oven on at all… Her excuse was that she missed that episode of Martha Stewart. I should’ve known. The most extravagant thing she ever made for me was a pizza pocket. My mom was so pissed, I had to break up with her. If she can’t cook, she’s not wifey material.”
The University of Toronto Mississauga is here to help students struggling to keep their relationship alive during “break up month.” On top of the six covered sessions at Health and Counselling Centre, they will also offer three couples counselling sessions. All they require is proof you’re in a toxic relationship. According to his receptionist, these changes are still awaiting the signature approval of Meric Gertler, who was unavailable for comment due to “trouble in paradise.”