According to a report this week in the Independent, more marriages break down in January than any other time of the year. So much so, that the first working Monday in January is often dubbed ‘Divorce Day’. Throughout January, over 40,500 people in the UK are expected to search online for ‘divorce’ – nearly 25% higher than the usual traffic.
Kate Daly, co-founder of Amicable, a company helping couples with divorce, explained that the January surge is partly down to reflections prompted by the post-Christmas lull.
“In January, after the hype of Christmas, dissatisfaction peaks as a consequence of lots of time spent together, financial pressures, desire to make changes and unfulfilled expectations,” she said.
That their relationship has come to an end this Christmas is a very sad reality for some people. We all find living together as married couples challenging at times and this can be amplified during holiday periods, especially when we are in each other’s company for a longer time than normal.
However, marriages are not helped by the emphasis of our culture on the individual. We are told that each of us has a right to be fulfilled and satisfied in our activities and relationships, and this can put extreme pressure on a marriage. If we marry to be happy, when it stops making us happy we then want to stop being married. But this is the antithesis of the biblical model of sacrificial living for the other which, ironically, leads to true and deep mutual happiness.
Another pressure on marriage is the knowledge that divorce is always available as an option, should unhappiness ensue. In practice, a culture that supports marriage as a commitment for life does not imprison a couple but provides the security within which they have great freedom to be open about their thoughts and feelings.
As Christians, we need to uphold marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and woman. As a local church we offer marriage preparation and enrichment courses to equip people to face the challenges ahead. We do not want to reinforce the idea that marriage is a casual commitment that can be broken without consequence.
This should also cause us to be thankful to God for the blessing of happy marriages. Many of us have enjoyed being together as families over Christmas and we are sad the holidays are over (even if there were moments we would have preferred to be on our own!).