I recently wrote an article about January being the busiest month for divorce. Couples coming out of a hectic and often stressful holiday season begin the New Year with a resolution to divorce. But what I found surprising is that this busy month is followed by another blip that occurs – yes – you got it – around Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is now being equated with divorce announcements or relationship endings versus marriage proposals. It may be an end to Valentine’s Day as we know it.
Although the stats are a couple of years old, a study of divorce filings in New York, Illinois, and California by AttorneyFee.com, referred to in an article in 2013, “found that February is the busiest month of the year for divorce filings, up about 18% from the average month. And those seeking referrals for a divorce lawyer on the site increase 38% following the holiday, with the biggest spike on the day after Valentine’s.” In the same article, the writer reports another site, Avvo.com, found a 40% increase in those seeking divorce information and advice right after Valentine’s Day. It is like an anti-climax after January resolutions.
I would not believe it if not for several of my clients having their date of separation in February, and yes, one even on February 14. As a divorce mediator, one of the things I need to have my couples agree to is the date of their separation. This is often based on some triggering event that becomes the catalyst for one or both parties to end the marriage. In the case of my clients, instead of a box of chocolates or flowers, the husband gave his wife the message that he wished to end the marriage because he was having a relationship with another woman. In my article “Dropping the Christmas Bomb,” I suggest to couples to choose a time to tell your spouse you want a divorce that is considerate and compassionate. The same is true for Valentine’s Day. It will serve you well later.
Why Valentine’s Day?
There are many reasons why this phenomenon is occurring. Here are a few:
- Delayed New Year’s resolution – That procrastination that usually occurs with making this big decision sometimes continues after the holidays. You made a resolution to begin anew but you just have not executed on it. But as the day that celebrates love approaches, couples realize and recognize the absence of love in their marriage and are now ready to act on their resolution.
- Second chances – Some people who missed divorce as a New Year’s resolution did so because they wanted to see if their spouse would give some sign that the marriage or relationship was worth saving. What better way to do that than to do something special to commemorate the day in the year that is formally attributed to demonstrating that love? When it doesn’t happen or does not meet your expectations, it is like putting the nail in the marriage coffin.
- Getting caught – Cheating spouses often trip up on Valentine’s Day. It may not be the Hollywood bungle of sending flowers to your spouse with the name of your mistress. But it may be the text message, telephone call, or email from another love interest received at the wrong time or that is discovered by your spouse. The probability of getting caught increases at Valentine’s as communication and clandestine meetings with the “other” party is more likely to happen and suspicions are raised.
- Coming clean – The flip side of getting caught is coming clean with your spouse that you are seeing someone else and, as a result, you want a divorce. Coming clean allows you to be honest with your spouse, as painful as it may be for them to receive this message, and your new love interest.
Valentine’s Day Should be Put to Rest
Florist and chocolatiers will hate me for saying this, but I wish Valentine’s Day would be put to rest. Because so much has been made about this one day in the year where you profess your love to your partner or spouse, it elevates the hurt and pain a man or a woman feels when you lose that love. It becomes like another holiday you need to get through. Personally, I believe every day should be about showing your love to one another in simple ways, not just flowers and chocolates.
If the trend in the studies mentioned earlier continues, the time around Valentine’s Day will not only be a time when people profess their love but a time they confess their lack of love for one another.
What about flowers in July and chocolates in September? Rest in peace, Valentine’s Day.
Written by Mary Krauel, CPA, CA, EMBA, CDFA, owner and senior negotiator of PRM Mediation