There are a lot of clichés about the first Monday in January – the dreaded “Divorce Day” – that sees a spike in divorce proceedings after the New Year hangover has finally cleared.
While Christmas can undoubtedly be a stressful period that leads to the casting of a critical eye over relationships, it is not the only crunch point for unhappy couples.
It’s not unusual for us to see divorce enquiries double after the school holidays, especially summer. Summer is a particularly testing time, where the family that have been peacefully leading separate lives working late and client entertaining, doing school and gym runs and disappearing with friends, suddenly find themselves thrown together for a prolonged period of time with no escape.
All those disappointments and resentments that you can squash down and forget when you keep your distance, all the longing for love and affection and finding coldness or bad temper, come sharply to the fore, and dreams of happy holidays which will bring everyone together are shattered in a miserable vacation that becomes a metaphor for the marriage itself.
Compress everyone in a car, a plane, an hotel, on hot, crowded beaches, with tired, whingey toddlers and teens and a hefty dose of remembered bitterness and betrayal and it can make a hell of heaven. Sarte said in Huis Clos, l’enfer, c’est les autres – hell is other people; some might say he was thinking of family holidays when he wrote it.
Social media has only made this situation worse: platforms like Instagram and tools like iCloud can lead to many an accidental exposé. At Vardags, we’ve seen reams of holiday snaps with the mistress downloaded onto the wife’s phone. We’ve seen lovers, enraged after seeing idyllic snaps from family holidays, start texting intrusively or making scenes. We’ve seen WhatsApp conversations that would make Liam Fox blush.
In the post-holiday fall-out, men – and women – sometimes jump because someone else is pushing them. Jealous lovers and those who have reached crunch point with a double life issue an ultimatum and change the game.
One way or another, we see, again and again, as summer fades away, the search for something more fulfilling begins.