You know how the song goes: “Summer loving had me a blast/Summer loving happened so fast/Met a boy who made me friggin’ crazy” — wait, that’s not right. If your summer romance is starting to feel more like 10 Things I Hate About You than Grease, it might not just be because you’re running out of iconic summer movies to Netflix and chill by.
If you’re ready to toss that dude you met on the beach like he’s end-of-season mascara — or even things with your long term S.O. feel like they’re cooling down — you’re unfortunately on-trend. According to new research, there’s a spike in the number of couples who get divorced at this time of year. And actually, it’s biannual, consistently right after the summer and winter holidays. Sociologists analyzed divorce filings in Washington state from 2001 to 2015 and found that they typically peaked in March and August.
The researchers posit that this is because the holidays are “culturally sacred times for families,” meaning it’s perceived that a split will especially sting during a season where people are typically spending time with their and their significant other’s families. In some cases, people also wait because the prospect of summer vacations makes them more optimistic about the future of the relationship. But even the most Instagram-worthy trip to the Bahamas isn’t enough to completely save a marriage.
And bad news, it gets even more bleak for couples in winter. The researchers noted that summer divorces happen right at the end of the season — likely so all of the emotional and logistical work is over before school starts, if there are kids involved. But in winter, it happens a couple months later, closer to the beginning of spring. Stress-filled family holidays could prove to be the final straw for already troubled couples, and it may take a few months for people to get their finances (and courage) together to act.
Other factors might come into play as well, like unemployment rates or the health of the housing market. But any timing shifts the researchers uncovered along the lines of those factors (like the 2008 recession, for example) weren’t statistically significant enough to discount the pattern. Now, they’re looking at other states to see if the data is consistent, or if the way that Washington governs divorce proceedings and guardianship rulings is a determining factor. There’s a lot more to be done, but based on the four other states they’ve examined so far (Ohio, Minnesota, Florida and Arizona), it does look like the trend is pretty consistent.
If you’re married or in a relationship and kind of freaking out right now, don’t panic. This research doesn’t mean you’re destined to split up after you put away the grill for the season. But it can’t hurt to be aware of the mood shifts that lead to these patterns, and that you might need to take extra care of your relationship if things are a little rocky come Labor Day.
Have you ever noticed the time of year playing a role in your breakups? Tweet us your take @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty).