Cold temperatures aren’t the only thing frosty about January: it’s also widely known as the “break-up” month as this is the month where more couples split up than at any other time of the year.

There is a surge in filing for divorce on the first Monday of the year, which continues for the rest of the month; known as “Divorce Day”. It is the time where the cracks in relationships, which have been building over the Christmas period, finally begin to show! 

There is, perhaps, something about the period of Christmas and its lack of work commitments, that allows us to see problems in relationships with a sharp clarity!

Yet it is not only married folks who need fear the January freeze-out; couples in dating or live-in relationships also tend to go their separate ways more often in January than in any other month.

Relationship freezes often take place between Christmas and New Year, a period during which couples who likely would otherwise have called it quits decide to stay together. January, therefore, racks up not only all the unpairings that normally would have accrued to it, but also many of those of mid-November through December.

Why do more couples choose to divorce and separate in January?

There are a number of reasons why people choose to divorce following Christmas and New Year, which can include:

Increase in stress

Spending more time together and with family, as well as the additional expenses of Christmas can put great strain on an already deteriorating relationship.

Family and friends

Many spouses decide to ride out the festive period in order to avoid upsetting their children, family and close friends during a time of celebration.

Unreasonable behaviour

Increased alcohol levels and festivities resulting in unwise conduct can also be the final straw for couples who are already thinking of separating.

Instead of being about family and sharing, Christmas can often descend into bitter arguments and excessive displays of drunkenness. January arrives, real life beckons again, and decisions are made.

In the UK, 1 in 5 couples plan to divorce in January - No one wants to be thought of as a Grinch at what was supposed to be the happiest time of the year, so we wait - There is no perfect time to divorce; For better or for worse, but many people in unhappy relationships choose to make plans to separate in the New Year after having one last Christmas which is often referred to “New Year’s Resolution Syndrome”.

Indeed, it’s possible that Christmas merely magnifies a problem that exists in our perception of our partners: we may have unrealistic expectations of them that aren’t being met. This is compounded by the perception of January as a time of change, sometimes merely for the sake of change itself.

This is why it is not necessarily a good idea to go ahead with a decision which is made in the immediate aftermath of an intense Christmas.   There might be a correlation between the way we make and break resolutions, and our attitude towards relationships. In both cases, we might be guilty of setting unrealistic goals. We often set impossible New Year’s resolutions we can’t possibly keep!

Interestingly the beginning of January is also the busiest day of the year for online dating with traffic peaking and a massive jump in registrations for online dating sites between December and February.

So, are January divorces merely down to unrealistic expectations and rash-decision-making?

Perhaps January divorces are a symptom of us wanting to do away with what we see as the detritus of our lives, when in fact what we should be doing is trying to find ways to make positive changes in our relationship!