When most people think of spring they think of trees budding, birds and spring flowers popping up everywhere. They don’t think about divorce, but in fact, March is the most popular month to divorce. It is a well-known truth among divorce lawyers and marriage therapists, but many couples are surprised to learn this. The statistics report that divorce activity begins in January and peaks in March. Why?
There are numerous possibilities including a long winter inside and couples feeling miserable about being together finally sense an air of freedom with the spring and decide to end their marriage. Or in some cases the couple was sensitive to timing and didn’t want to split during the holidays. Legally, there is the money aspect as well with tax returns. If you stay married through the 31st of December, you’ll file a joint return for the year.
While divorces happen throughout the year, with the national average being roughly 45 to 50 percent for first marriages, 60% for second marriages and 73% for third time marriages, the question becomes how do you avoid divorce in the spring as well as all year long?
Dr. John Gottman with the Gottman Marriage Institute has been able to accurately predict divorces with a 93% accuracy rate by looking at these factors and watching the first 15 minutes of the couple’s argument. If you see any of these in your own marriage, communicating to one another and talking to a professional therapist can help you avoid being a divorce statistic.
- Criticism: this is not be confused with complaining. Complaining is being upset with your partner’s behavior, and criticism is attacking their character; “I’m disappointed in you and I feel embarrassed.
- Contempt: these are sarcastic, name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery or using hostile humor. It communicates disgust to the partner and is the worst sign.
- Defensiveness: this method blames your partner and basically says that none of this is my fault.
- Stonewalling: when an argument continues and the partner doesn’t know what to do it is a method of tuning out the other person. Men use this method more than women by ignoring her, which makes her feel more angry and alone. This method is usually developed later after futile attempts to resolve conflicts.
No matter where your marriage is, the important point is you can stop the damage by learning to not let the argument or conflict become larger than the marriage. Using humor and making attempts to limit the minutes you’ll spend arguing can help minimize the damage. Most importantly, learning the fine art of negotiation, including the fact that your opinion doesn’t make you superior, but your loving actions do to your spouse is the secret weapon of happily married couples.