Blue Monday

January 20, 2020

There is a day in January that has become notorious.  It is called Blue Monday.  It was coined back in 2005.    Oddly enough, it falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States, so some see the whole week as blue or the following Monday. I mean, how can anyone hate a day off of work or a day of service to others?  But whatever Monday in January you pick, it seems to make sense.

In reality, it is pseudo-science and superstition, but for many it feels real.  Christmas is over, and the doldrums of winter have set in.   The bills from the holidays begin to roll in. The snowy weather that would have been exciting to have the week of Christmas and New Years always seems to showup three weeks late.  And it usually makes up for lost time.  That virus that has been going around has a tendency to find you or the whole family.  And an unusually high number of people you know are going on vacations to warm places… but not you.

January is the highest month for divorce filings

I am not sure if Blue Monday is for real, but there is a growing number of studies and reports pointing to a very bleak January phenomenon. Media, court filings, lawyers all seem to confirm that January is the highest month for divorce filings. But why?

The most common explanation is the idea of getting through the holidays for the sake of the family. No one wants to mess things up at Christmas time.  The theory suggests that the divorce plans have already been decided upon, they are just waiting until Christmas is over.  Ironically, those who go through divorce struggle the most during that first holiday season. The nostalgia ofthe holidays causes many to wonder if what they did was the right move.  But if they have “set their face” to it in December, the result is action in January after the dust has settled.  The whisperers with relatives in December become statements in January.

What are the signs?

There are things to look for at any time of the year, but they can be glossed over in January. Mostly it is change of habits or behavior.  The go unnoticed sometimes due to the cloud of New Year’s resolutions.

1.      Changes in self-care. Going to the gym or spa. A new focus on nails or hair, etc. A new wardrobe. New emphasis on healthy eating.  Again, this can get lost in the New Year’s resolution idea. But sometimes, this is a sign that the person is looking to improve themselves for a different future.

2.      Lack of concern with finances.  They no longer care for the budget or expenses or financial issues.  In fact, some divorce attorneys encourage this. They encourage the inflation of one’s finances or needs for a few weeks to make the case for larger support or alimony or settlement.

3.      Lack of conflict.  Wait, wouldn’t that be a good thing?  The biggest warning sign is the lack of conflict or “nagging.” The spouse that was complaining or pointing things out just a few weeks or months ago no longer seems to care about these issues.  It is a sign they have thrown in the towel or decided it no longer matters.

What should you do?

First and foremost, things don’t change without change. Or in other words, things don’t just magically improve or disappear.  If your relationship is struggling, you know it. And your partner knows it.  Recognize where you are at, and decide to put the work in.

1. It is common to see a couple where one person is interested in counseling and the other is not.  If one is talking about counseling, spending time to convince them this is not necessary is rarely effective. Go ahead and begin the process.  Let a counselor tell you both that you don’t need counseling.

2. If counseling is off the table, read through a relationship book together. Our favorites can be found here.

3. Consider a weekend marriage retreat. Our recommended retret is called Weekend to Remember.

Blue Monday can actually be a catalyst for something new. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling.  Don’t let a down January sink the rest of your year or your marriage.

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