Hold onto your wedding rings, readers: today is Divorce Day, the least auspicious day for marriage of the calendar year. And what exactly is Divorce Day? According to the Evening Standard, lawyers receive the most enquiries about divorce on the first Monday back at work after the holiday season — and this year, the fateful day lands on January 7. It's a happy date for lawyers' bank balances, but a less happy date for matrimony. So what should you know about Divorce Day, and should married couples be concerned?
Worry not, those of you luxuriating in marital bliss: Divorce Day won't turn a happy couple into an estranged one. For a number of reasons, as the Evening Standard explains, it's simply the day when the highest number of unhappy couples decide to look into divorce, whether that's by reaching out to a lawyer or researching their options online.
Last year, divorce support service Amicable revealed that over 40,500 people were expected to Google "divorce" in January, as the Independent reports, while relationship charity Relate said calls to their helpline typically spike this month. In fact, January 2017 saw a 24 per cent increase in calls to Relate, in comparison with the average number of calls per month.
So what is it about Divorce Day that's quite so fatal to marriages? Relate relationship counsellor Gurpreet Singh told the Evening Standard that the pressure of the holiday season, as well as the extended period of time off that many couples take, can expose the irresolvable flaws in a marriage. "Any post-holiday break, when you get a period of intense time with each other, you start to wonder if you belong together," he said. "Your argument might start with the dishes before escalating to 'you never listen to me.' All you need is a trigger for it to escalate."
But holiday stress won't destroy a solid marriage, Chris Sherwood, former chief executive of Relate, told the Independent. "The reality is that many of the calls we receive in January are from couples who are already at crisis point after existing relationship tensions have come to a head over Christmas," he said. "With one in five people in the UK in a 'distressed relationship,' we’d urge anyone who isn’t getting on with their partner to seek support as early as possible."
Ammanda Major, also from the charity, suggested January's relationship troubles might be the outcome of unfulfilled expectations. "Many people hope that the festive period will be a time of coming together, so when this doesn't happen the sense of failure and sadness can further exacerbate problems that were there in the first place," she told the BBC.
According to the BBC, over 400 people in the UK didn't make it to Divorce Day 2019: 13 people submitted an online divorce application on Christmas Day itself, while 26 sent in forms on Christmas Eve and 23 did so on Boxing Day. In total, 455 people filled out an online divorce application between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day — and in a major case of completing your New Year's resolution early, 77 applied for divorce online on January 1, 2019.
So what's the takeaway about Divorce Day? If you're content in your marriage, you've got nothing to fret about — and if you're thinking about divorce, you're very far from alone. And if you're not married? It's just another Monday.