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Divorce, the ides of March, and the dog days of summer

The original "National Lampoon's Vacation" film documents the trials and tribulations of a family taking a summer break to a popular destination. On the road to WallyWorld, the married Griswolds see their relationship put to the test amidst the significant stress of travel setbacks. The "Christmas Vacation" sequel showed similar strife. The patriarch was consumed with anxiety over not receiving his holiday bonus as his house overflowed with equally frustrating family members.

While comedic in its presentation, both films did show that your marriage might not always survive the "long way down the holiday road."

Changing seasons. Changing relationships.

According to associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini, evidence exists of a seasonal, twice-a-year pattern for divorce filings. They studied marital dissolutions in various Washington counties between 2001 and 2015, and broadened their scope to include areas of Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and Arizona.

Casting a wide net showed that in spite of differing demographics and economic conditions, divorces peaked during periods following winter and summer. The paper, "Seasonal Variation in Divorce Filings: The Importance of Family Ritual in a Post-sentimental Era," suggests that a "domestic ritual" calendar that governs family behavior drives divorce filings, specifically during the months of March and August.

Setting aside differences may be prolonging marital problems

August's "dog days of summer" represent an endpoint where your family may want to ritualistically "get away from it all." High expectations exist as your family looks forward to putting the stress and strain of everyday life behind. Past differences, disappointments and setbacks are placed in the rearview mirror as you travel to your destination.

Late-December holidays are well known as a time when differences are set aside. The focus is on family. Relationships can mend as you and your spouse strive to start over. Yet, the financial stress of increased expenses or the intrusiveness of extended families can send soaring hopes crashing to the ground. Marital problems can easily return to the surface in the months following the annual winter holiday.

When summer and winter holiday times fail to provide that "second chance," divorce becomes the only solution for marital problems. As children close out their summer break and return to school, routines change, serving as a disruption. A few months following a disappointing late-December, the approaching first day of spring results in longer days and increased activities.

Those annual milestones may lead to additional activities that become life-changing milestones.

Ending a marriage.

It's the end of summer and you might find yourself in this exact situation. While the study shows that you are not alone in wanting a divorce this time of year, you probably feel like you are.

That's ok. Divorce is a highly personal and emotional process. You aren't a statistic. Don't forget this when selecting an attorney. Make sure he or she gives you the attention you deserve, takes time to listen to your concerns and cares about helping you find a solution that is as unique as you are.

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