Not only does the weather grow cold in January, according to statistics, so do the hearts of many couples. January is widely known as “break-up” month because more marriages end in January than at any other time of the year. This trend is further emphasized with the first working Monday of the year being dubbed “Divorce Day” when people make the most inquires about divorce. It would be more accurate to describe January as “researching my options” month, as internet searches “divorce”, “child custody”, and ‘family law” jump 50% from December to January, with actual filings peaking in March.

Whether January is the gloomiest months for marriages or March, there is no denying those first few months of the year are the winter of discontent, and here are several reasons why.

Holidays Are Family Time

No one wants to make the big family Thanksgiving uncomfortable, ruin the kids’ Christmas or be alone for New Year’s Eve, so instead they put the pain on pause, paint on a fake smile and grin and bear it until January. Then there are those who, geeked up about the miracle that was Jesus’ birth, the one on 34th Street and bells ringing and angels getting their wings, are hoping for their own Christmas miracle.

For many families, there’s also the matter of holiday travel. People are loathed to cancel travel plans they’ve made far in advance, though speaking as someone who suffered through a trip just days after finding out about my ex’s adultery, I’d say, take the loss and cancel the trip.

Financial Considerations

Most people understand that there will be financial consequences of a divorce, and thus try to put themselves in the best financial position possible. Since the IRS takes into account the taxpayers’ marital status on December 31, it can be beneficial to wait until January to file. Expected year-end bonuses can also be a factor in holding off until the New Year to file. 

New Year, New Start

The start of a new year has long been viewed as a time to make changes, wipe the slate clean and start anew, and seeking a divorce now is just part of this long-established pattern. Instead of losing weight or vows to go work out more, couples are looking to end the marriage and start a new life.

Adultery Discovered

Mommy got caught kissing Santa Claus, or Daddy was discovered going into another woman’s chimney, so come January, lawyers are being called. It is not uncommon for adultery to be revealed during the holiday season. Side-pieces alone for holidays, decide to let betrayed wives know they’ve been creeping with their husbands. An unsuspecting wife stumbles upon the receipt for an extravagant gift that ends up not being under the tree Christmas morning (remember the movie Love Actually?).

I got that most memorable “gift” one Christmas, so I know from whence I speak.  And while I wouldn’t file, or even begin to seriously investigate divorce until spring, I was definitely in that group doing the Internet search for “family law”.

For those feeling the harshness of this especially cold time of the year, this is my prayer for you:

Dear God, 

I ask that you bring all who read this comfort and peace and the warmth of your presence and unconditional love.

May they find strength in the love of family and in the warm embrace of friends during this difficult time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen