Think twice before spending every moment of the holiday with your husband or wife.
It just might tip a shaky marriage over the edge.
While there’s a lull in divorce filings during summer months, government figures show rates spike in March, once school and work resume for another year.
Spending too much time together can be the nail in the coffin for some, a counsellor specialising in relationships says.
“The divorce rate at that time of year is just a reflection on what is really going on because they’re having to spend more time together,” Bryce Diprose said.
“If you’re taking the two-weeks-off traditional holiday break, you’re spending a couple of weeks with someone who maybe you don’t really like.”
Filing for divorce is rarest during the summer. In 2015, the summer monthly average was 646 divorce filings, while the monthly average for the year was 718.
But March of 2015 was the busiest divorce month.
Filings peaked at 805 that month, according to figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice through the Official Information Act.
Similarly, in 2016, while the monthly average was 700, March climbed 10 per cent to 777.
The trend is apparent after Easter holidays, too: May is a busy month for divorces – 761 were filed for in May 2015 and even set the yearly record of 803 in May 2016.
“When you’re working, you can run off to work or spend that extra time at work because you don’t want to go home to see your partner,” Diprose said.
Booze is another holiday problem.
“We tend to drink a lot more around this time of year, so it exaggerates things in our minds.
“Alcohol is a depressant.
“That is going to exaggerate all the negative stuff that’s going on in a relationship.
“When people are getting out and about, it’s vitamin D, people feeling better about themselves.”
For couples experiencing holiday irritation, it’s important to communicate, Diprose said.
“Be mindful that you’re spending more time together, so it is going to exaggerate what might not be good.
“I think they’ve just got to talk and possibly do things on their own.”
Divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton said he notices these trends year to year.
While December is the quietest month for people seeking separation, it seems to peak after any holiday.
“It’s a reasonably common thing that people look into [divorce] in January and February but maybe not apply for divorce,” Sutton said. “But if they’ve got a new partner, they’ll be filing as soon as possible.
“I tend to be very busy at the start of the year from January onwards.
“December is usually quite quiet as to when people are separating, because they’re focusing on family things.
“Some people will come in before Christmas and say, I want to separate. But they’ve got children, so they’re going to wait for the New Year for the sake of the kids. They don’t want to ruin the Christmas holidays.
“And there’s a lot of money spent on holidays and presents and other expenses … In general, at Christmas, things are quite tight.”
New Year resolutions, having the time to reflect and visiting the in-laws are other factors that lead to post-holiday separation, Sutton said.
“Most families or couples have three weeks or more for the holiday and that’s the longest time they’ll have without one party working.
“It can mean that you’re feeling tired and not that happy because you’ve had to travel to another part of the country to see your in-laws when really you’d rather not be doing that.”