What happens with relationships when summer ends?
You might have noticed a trend that many couples breakup or divorce at the end of summer. It’s important to look at the reasons why this happens and be able to acknowledge the difficult things about relationships. We can also prepare ourselves for these challenges, and try to work through them together. Read more to find out why some couples break up after the summer, and tips for how to work through these challenges and be more active in your relationship.
What does it mean to invest in your relationship?
Summer is here, and many of us finally have some time to step back and look at our relationships. Some people try to spend the summer “fixing” their relationships, or feel a buildup of resentment about unresolved issues.
When summer passes us by and things aren’t getting better, it ends up being the transition time from summer to fall when many people choose to divorce. It probably wasn’t the vacation itself that resulted in divorce. In many cases, there were disappointments that have existed for a long time.
Coupleness is all about working proactively with your relationship throughout the year. We call it Active Love. We encourage couples to invest even just a little bit of time into your relationship every day. This can help you handle the issues and resentments that slowly build over time, and help you and your partner feel like a team when working through life and relationship challenges.
Keep reading for the most common reasons for post-summer divorce, and ideas for what to do if you’re in those situations.
Why do people get divorced after summer, and how can I stay together with my partner?
To make relationships last, it can be helpful to look at the reasons why some don’t. People break up and get divorced all the time. But lots of people seem to break up after summer. Here are some of the reasons why couples break up at the end of summer, and ways you can work to overcome common relationship challenges:
We thought the summer would fix things: You thought about breaking up earlier, but already had plans for the summer, so the breakup was delayed. Or, you were hoping the vacation would “fix” the relationship.
What can help: Address any unresolved conflicts. Come back to the arguments you put on pause or tried to ignore for the summer. Express any disappointment or resentment that have been building up, focusing on your feelings rather than placing blame. People are like teapots: if we don’t release the steam, the pressure will keep building and getting louder. Conflicts can’t be resolved if they’re swept under the rug. At the same time, remember that external circumstances (like vacation) will probably not be what your relationship needs to heal the difficulties. So, try to take the pressure off of the summer and recognize that working through your relationship’s challenges can require effort, patience and vulnerability.
My expectations were not met: You had high expectations for the summer - more sex, relax together all day, we will have so much fun together and will never argue - that were not met.
What can help: Having high expectations creates opportunities for disappointment. We can get lost in what we’re hoping for, and can’t actually be present with our partner and accept reality for what it is. Take time to reflect on if your expectations for the summer, your partner, and your relationship were realistic and reasonable. Sometimes, we are perfectly justified in feeling let down and we shouldn’t lower the bar. Other times, we set our sights too high and if we had had more realistic expectations, we wouldn’t feel disappointed at all. If you expect to win a million dollars today, you’ll be disappointed when you don’t. If you don’t expect to win a million dollars today, and indeed you don’t, you might feel perfectly happy about your day.
My sex drive is gone: Your sex drive was higher during the summer. You were more relaxed and had plenty of time. Now after the summer with everyday life at full force, you have lost your desire and motivation for sex.
What can help: Take some of the pressure off by focusing on intimacy instead of sex. Instead of sex or orgasms being the goal, aim for connection, closeness, or sensuality. Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling so you have an open dialogue about your sexual connection. Try something new or silly together to bring lightness to the situation: sleep upside down, with your pillows at the foot of the bed; bring chocolate sauce or peanut butter to the bedroom; try kissing each other in funny places like your elbows or belly buttons. Worst case, you laugh together, and that certainly can’t hurt.
I don’t like what I see: You discovered things you don’t like about your partner or relationship. Maybe you realized in all that free time that you actually don’t have anything to talk about. Or you’d rather spend your free time with your friends or family without your partner. Or that you don’t have fun together, have nothing in common, or aren’t attracted to your partner.
What can help: Recognize that the way we feel can change over time, and in different circumstances. Maybe there was something about this summer that created a perfect storm of discontent, but as life changes, your relationship can be or feel better. Some things might feel better with a shift in mindset. Some things might improve with time and distance from the summer. And some things might not get any better, and we need to accept things for what they are and make decisions about how to move forward. It’s important to be proactive and seek support, like couple’s therapy, before you feel completely helpless, checked out or defeated.
I’m losing the comparison game: Attending other people’s weddings in the summer, or seeing other couples’ Instagram posts, makes you compare other people’s happiness in their relationships with your own.
What can help: The comparison game is a tough one. It’s easy to feel that our lives or relationships are worse than others. That’s especially true when we’re seeing others on their most romantic day or vacation! Getting through this challenge is about identifying what’s special about your relationship. Is it your shared interests, or that your partner always has your back, or something else? Try taking a break from Instagram and remember that every couple has their challenges, even if all you see are the good moments. Ultimately, see if you can use other couples as your inspiration instead of comparison.
My vacation amplified our problems: Vacationing together can highlight your differences and bring up conflicts, old and new.
What can help: We learn a lot about each other when we travel together. The key is to identify the core issues underneath the conflicts. Let’s say you got mad at your partner because they refused to ask for directions when you wanted to, and you ended up lost for hours. The core issue there could be that you feel like your ideas are not valued by your partner. When you can talk through the deeper issue instead of fighting about the circumstances, you’re more likely to find resolutions together.
I’m blaming my relationship for my struggles: Anxiety about going back to work or routines is misplaced onto the relationship.
What can help: Spend some time on your own; maybe go for a walk or do some journaling. Try to identify what’s bringing you down. If you’re regularly upset with your partner, take time to find out why. It might be easy to place your frustration on your relationship. But it could actually be due to your work, the weather, or something else outside your relationship. Make a plan for the fall and find good routines. Get to know yourself better by understanding your feelings and what affects you. That will also help improve the communication in your relationship.
What do I do if I am thinking about divorce?
Sometimes, these challenges are just too big, and it comes time to end the relationship. But before things get to that point, we can do our best to understand what’s difficult and work through it together.
It is important to try to be proactive and seek couples therapy before you have given up. An outside third party can help identify your strengths and work through your challenges. They can support your development and help you move forward together.
If you are heading towards divorce, a couple’s therapist can help you navigate the process and have as smooth of a separation as possible, especially if you have children.
So, as summer ends and fall begins, we can use this time of change to reflect, and choose how we want to move forward in our lives and relationships.