Some people take that whole “new year, new me” adage to the extreme– as Divorce-Related Online Searches Swell In January! But take heart as Being Single Isn’t All Bad.
The Knot found in a 2014 wedding study that 15% of weddings take place in June, making it the most popular month to say “I do.” But when it comes to when you say “I don’t,” the weather might mirror the coldness felt in a relationship. According to data analyzed by Amicable, a divorce support service, more than 40,500 people will search the term “divorce” in online search engines during the month of January. In fact, Google Trends data shows that January is filled to the brim with internet searches related to divorce. January 2016 and January 2012 were the two most popular months for these kinds of searches during the last decade.
We know that 41% of first marriages end in divorce, but is there a specific reason why the first of the year triggers this kind of change for some couples? According to the co-founder of Amicable, Katy Daly, one of the reasons might be a post-holiday lull.
As Daly told the Independent: “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.”
That doesn’t mean that happy couples will unexpectedly decide to separate come New Year’s Day, of course. As Daly explained, “Relationships don’t suddenly go wrong but January provides the first opportunity to reflect on issues that have been brewing and put on hold for months. It usually culminates in ‘divorce day,’ the first Monday back to work after the Christmas break.”
No one wants to go through a divorce, but the fact is that there may be a spike in online inquiries this month pertaining to marital issues. In the U.S., Trump’s new tax plan could convince some couples in rocky relationships to end things, too. Starting in 2019, spousal maintenance or alimony payments will no longer be subject to tax deductions by the payer and they will not be taxed for the payee. Currently, they’re tax deductible for the spouse making payments and are considered a part of the other spouse’s taxable income. While this might seem like it’d benefit the person receiving those payments, experts say it’ll likely end up hurting both parties and may also impact child support payments. As a result, some lawyers are predicting that unhappy couples may put a rush on their divorces to get payment plans settled before the new laws take effect.
Divorce is undoubtedly painful in both emotional and financial terms. But some people still see marriage as a rite of passage, believing that it’s better to have been married than to stay single. Interestingly, the data might not support that way of thinking. In fact, there are some definitive upsides to being alone.
For one thing, staying single may be becoming more of the rule than the exception. Census Bureau data from 2017 found that a record number of U.S. adults were unmarried: more than 110 million residents were single, divorced, or widowed. All told, that equates to more than 45% of all Americans over the age of 18. People who do get married are waiting longer than ever before. The median age of adults getting married for the first time increased to 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women.
There’s this idea that married people are more confident than those who are single, simply due to the concept that married people “have someone.” But a landmark study found that being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily improve self-esteem. If the relationship is stable, healthy, and long-term, it can have a positive impact on confidence. But couples in relationships that lasted less than a year were found to have lower self-esteem than people who stayed single. That makes sense if you think about the fact that nearly one-third of women dye their hair or change their hairstyle following a breakup or divorce — it’s often an effort to regain lost self-confidence and a sense of identity.
Single people are often healthier than married ones, too. Three different studies published in 2017 found this to be true. In one study of more than 79,000 American women between the ages of 50 and 79, researchers discovered that women who stayed single or got divorced kept healthier diets, exercised more frequently, and had smaller waist measurements than those who stayed married. The only area where single women were more unhealthy? Their smoking habits. A Swiss study conducted over a 16 year period found that people who got married were slightly less healthy than when they were single. And another U.S. study found that virtually no married participants out of the 12,000-plus survey pool reported being healthier than when they were single. Plus, an analyzation of survey data spanning two and a half decades found that singles are having more sexual intercourse than married or divorced people are.
Clearly, being unattached comes with a lot of advantages. And these days, the stigma associated with singledom isn’t what it used to be. So whether you’ve never been married or think your union might be on the rocks, take heart: while a happy marriage has the power to enrich our lives, no one should beat themselves up for being single.