It’s That Time of Year for Getting Engaged or Getting Divorced

It’s That Time of Year for Getting Engaged or Getting Divorced by Susan Ingram

{3:06 minutes to read}

There are two trends that occur at the end of each year, and into the beginning months of the following year. One has to do with the demise of a marriage, and the other with the commitment to marry. While these are clearly opposite aspects of “coupled” life, they share a common factor that influences the outcome of each.

January has been dubbed “divorce month.” According to court records, it’s the month of the year when the most divorces are filed with the court. And January is followed by February and March, which continue the high divorce rate trend. It may be that these couples — who were already in challenging marriages — are coming off of the tension-filled holidays, and looking to make a new start with the new year.

Marital engagements begin to peak in December, when the rate doubles compared with any other months of the year. Higher levels run through Valentine’s Day in mid-February. Here instead, the festive mood of the holidays creates the backdrop for popping the question.

Often the main reasons that marriages end in divorce are related to communication problems between the spouses. Couples don’t know how to have a productive discussion when they’re in disagreement, whether it is the engaged couple arguing over how much to spend on the wedding reception, or the married couple arguing over one spouse’s habit of overspending.

According to a recent article in the NY Times entitled “The Secret of a Happy Marriage is Knowing How to Fight:”

“… money decisions never stop being a challenge … Financial decisions need to take into account the other person’s thoughts, which are often in conflict with one’s own. Many people are conditioned to avoid talking openly about money, so they simmer in silence.”

As you might suspect from the article title, the author encourages engaged couples to think, not just about their Big Day, but also about how they will handle the disagreements that will inevitably occur in their marriage.

The author, who works with couples in therapy, talks of helping a couple create a “we story,” in which they collaborate regarding their values and goals. This requires a productive conversation in which each person makes an effort to understand the other’s concerns, needs and feelings.

And, of course, if a couple starts early-on (before the Big Day) to have these productive conversations, they will be more likely to weather the vicissitudes of their life together, and avoid the January marriage demise.

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