Divorce Rates Are Actually Highest Right After Family Vacations

Despite the best intentions of a relaxing trip, it's no surprise that family vacations can be filled with a fair share of stress. From packing struggles to reservation issues, many parents come home feeling like they need a vacation from their vacation.

However, recent research from the University of Washington shows that family vacations aren't just leaving parents temporarily drained — they could also be the tipping point for divorces. The new study, conducted by associate sociology professor Julie Brines, saw a pattern of dissolving marriages linked to seasonal trips.

Divorce rates were consistently found to be the highest in March and August — despite other factors including unemployment rates and the housing market. Considering that it takes a few months to begin the divorce process and file with an attorney, researchers believe that these peak months are the delayed effects of the Winter holiday trips and Summer vacations.

"It was very robust from year to year and very robust across counties," lead researcher Professor Julie Brines told Medical News Today. It's important to note that this study doesn't cite vacations as the cause of marital separation but that they are linked.

These seasonal trips are often a time when couples hope to work on their relationships but they don't always live up to everyone's hopes. "People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past," said Brines. "They represent periods in the year when there's the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life. It's like an optimism cycle, in a sense. They're very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture."