The holidays aren’t always the most wonderful time of the year, which is why more couples get divorced in January than any other month of the year. That’s according to New Orleans marriage and family therapist Dr. Eileen Palace, who says the holidays can put added strain on relationships.

“December tends to be very stressful, and people wait until they’re after the holidays so they don’t disappoint the children and family members. They put on a good front in December, and then they separate in January,” Palace said.

Palace says people’s expectations of what holidays should be can set them up for disappointment. She says that coupled with lack of sleep and increased alcohol can create problems in a relationship. But she says sometimes there are more serious issues that have been going on for years.

“They haven’t gotten to it until it’s kind of in their face right at this time of year when they’re spending more time together and they have other family there that are reminding them. So it brings up old issues,” Palace said.

Palace says people are also dealing with personal issues during the holidays because it can remind them of lost loved ones or their children being grown. She says this can lead to depression in women and irritability in men. She says it’s important to be tolerant of other people’s issues and not take it personally.

“Recognizing what’s the real cause of this fight and maybe stepping back and being more tolerant and respectful and supportive of your partner and letting it go until later if you really need to deal with it,” Palace said.