Divorce and Valentine’s Day

While most people think of Valentine’s Day as the most romantic day of the year, for a surprising number of couples it’s one of the least romantic. That’s because reports show that divorce filings increase by about 40% around Valentine’s day and inquiries about divorce go up by about 36%.  Perhaps February 14th is to divorce lawyers what April 15th is to accountants.

What is it that makes people decide to do the divorce deed at a time when others are proposing, getting married, or at least handing out roses, candy, and diamonds? Are people really that anxious to get out of buying a gift or having a romantic dinner? There are a number of theories:

  1. It’s just unfortunate timing: people who had decided around New Year’s that their marriage was over just dragged their feet and six weeks to mid-February just happens to be the amount of time it took one person or the other to start the proceedings.
  2. Valentine’s Day is a Last Stand for some couples. Maybe they’re sincerely giving it a go, but while they’re trying to be romantic, they realize that it’s just not there anymore.
  3. The Valentine’s Day message, pounded into us so relentlessly by every commercial and store window, is a heavy burden for those who’s marriage is teetering on the brink. As anguishing as that all can be for single people who want to be married, those who are in a marriage that isn’t happy can also feel pained. When they find themselves thinking, “Why don’t I have the feelings for my spouse that that jewelry commercial says I should have? And if I don’t, what’s the point of being married?”
  4. For those whose relationship is more contentious, what one spouse or the other does or does not do on Valentine’s Day might be the last straw that angers one so much that they file in a fury on February 15th. If they can’t make it through the day without fighting, or a gift (or no gift) seems unfeeling, then that might be enough to make a couple give up.

smashed cracked heart

So what should you do if you or your spouse have just filed for divorce and it’s Valentine’s Day, or you’re spending your first Valentine’s as a divorced person? Here are some ideas:

  • It’s not the end of the world to be alone on Valentine’s Day. Trust me on this. No matter what the cards say, it doesn’t really matter that much. Don’t be depressed because you’re co-worker got roses delivered to her at work. It doesn’t mean she’s a better person than you, just that timing landed her in a relationship on a day in mid-February. Take a moment and feel relieved that you’re not being squashed under the giant pressure of the Valentine’s Day machine.
  • You know that money you didn’t have to spend on a Valentine’s Day gift or dinner for your spouse? Spend it on you. Buy yourself a present, go out to dinner with a friend, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure. And if you think it looks pathetic for you to do things like that on Valentine’s Day (it doesn’t), do it on the 15th. That’s when the sales are, anyway.
  • If you’ve been thinking about volunteering with some kind of organization, February is as good a time as any to start. Helping someone will always make you feel better.
  • Send a Valentine’s Day card to your mom, dad, son or daughter. Marriages break up, but those are the people who will always love you.

And of course, always remember this–Valentine’s Day is no longer than any other day. It will end. You’ll get through it.