Studies show that while the summer holidays are the most unlikely time for a couple to ‘throw in the towel’, the global rate of relationship breakups experiences an alarming increase in the months leading up to Christmas. It looks like people who have decided that they’ve fallen out of love tend to wait until after the holidays abroad, the summer sunshine and the time off from studying or work before they break the news to their significant other.
But why is it that so many people want to break up after the summer? Could it be that after spending a prolonged amount of time in each other’s company over the summer months, couples just get, well, bored of their partners? In 2009 Lee Byron found that 28% of breakups are due to a lost interest in your significant other – and spending all that time together over the summer break surely must be a contributing factor to that figure. Too much of a good thing spoils that thing, and the same goes for relationships.
So: how can you survive the summer months without losing interest in your partner, resulting in a probably messy and unpleasant September break up? September’s bad enough already, what with going back to university and the days getting shorter/colder. No need to make it any worse by breaking someone’s heart! Jo Barnett, a life coach and relationship expert, thinks the key is spending time apart.
“When I am making suggestions for people who want to develop really healthy relationships I am always in favour of time apart doing the things that YOU love... your own interest or passion, hobby or sport,” Jo advises. “Not only does this keep your independence, it is healthy as you’re not always relying on each other for your entertainment.”
For Jo, spending time apart not only encourages healthy and stable relationships, but it helps couples break out of a routine, gives them something new to talk about and prevents monotony. Taking up a new sport, or spending more time doing one you already love, is a great way to ‘take a break’ from your significant other, have some ‘me time’, and develop interests external to your daily routine. And what better sport than golf?
Whether you’re already a lover of the sport, or you’re new to the game, golf is an effective way to get that much-needed time away from your partner. In the introduction to her book Honey, I Love Golf, But I Love You More! Jodi Walker paints the stereotype of a man obsessed with golf, and his jilted wife/girlfriend becoming increasingly frustrated as he gives more time and attention to the sport than to her. In fact, a shift in perception reveals that golf demands behaviours – patience, courtesy, commitment – that are perfect for building long-term, sustainable relationships. For both men and women, golf can be a valuable tool that promotes not only these vital social behaviours, but also the importance of taking some time apart from your partner.
Jo Barnett advises that couples take up to five days apart to help sustain a healthy relationship: “It’s important to get a good balance... it is really whatever you are both happy with. This can be anything from a couple of days apart to having five days apart.” If you don’t quite fancy a five-day golf holiday, a few hours playing 18 holes on the green is a good place to start. A common misconception is that golf breaks relationships rather than makes them, but Jo’s advice suggests that golf could actually be the perfect way to maintain a healthy, happy relationship with your partner – especially during that September slump.
So why not make it your new academic year’s resolution to play more golf? Besides the obvious health benefits, you may find that the health of your relationship (and your handicap!) will take an unexpected turn for the better.