The media-friendly term ‘Divorce Day’ does not sit well with me.
The first working Monday of January is frequently reported in the press as the day that divorce lawyers see a spike in enquiries as marriages meltdown across the country because of the pressures of Christmas.
Granted we do notice a spike here at Stowe Family Law in enquiries in January but then we also do in September after the school holidays, so it is not just tied to the pressure of Christmas.
I know too well that holidays can be stressful, highlighting tensions and unresolved issues. Most parents today work so weeks fly by, heads down, carry on. On holiday you look up and, in some cases, see the cracks.
But is this the moment that drives people to separate: an argument about the in-laws interfering, lack of presents or sheer exhaustion?
For me, it was so much more than that. I did not decide to leave my partner of 20 years because it was Christmas. I just knew that I had to survive Christmas, not just for my children but also for my wider family. Just like I knew I had to survive the summer holiday because the kids were so excited.
The decision to end a long-term relationship or a marriage cannot be tied down to a season or a holiday or the mother-in-law. It is so much bigger than that and runs so much deeper than that.
Separating is not just about the couple: you must think about the kids, the family, your friends, schools, the house, the garden, the expectations… And that takes a lot of time to think through.
So, this Divorce Day, let’s think for a moment about the couples behind the statistics. The ones that have painted on the smile for too long, the ones that haven’t, the ones who had the affair, the ones that didn’t, the ones where there was no drama, but they simply fell out of love.
These people are not just enquiry numbers. And I don’t believe that having a Divorce Day paints a true picture of the lives behind the statistics.