High-season for Swedish divorces draws near

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High-season for Swedish divorces draws near

Swedish couples are most likely to file for divorce in the autumn, which means couples therapists are currently dealing with lovebirds whose feathers have been ruffled during the summer holidays.


In the past five years, the highest number of divorces has taken place in October. September is also a popular month for Swedes calling it quits on long-term romances. Swedish relationship experts now say that summer vacation can take its toll on couples.

"It all comes down to whether the holiday is a good and relaxed one or if its stressful and taxing," Stockholm-based expat counsellor Ash Rehn told The Local.

"People who go on holiday together spend so much time together that things can come to a head," he added. "It can be very stressful visiting friends and families in particular if one person is an expat."

Rehn explained that couples where one partner is foreign-born often find their own routines and communication, but that spending time with in-laws puts both language and cultural demands onto the expat spouse.

"It can be quite tough, especially if their Swedish isn't so great, and if they've been through a period of social isolation in Sweden," Rehn said. "They can find it quite taxing."

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Since divorce laws were amended in the 1970s, about 20,000 Swedes get divorced every year. Marriages that ended in divorce lasted on average eleven years, according to figures from Statistics Sweden.

One in three Swedish 17-year-olds has gone through their parents splitting up - the statistic includes parents who were registered partners (sambo), not only married couples.

Yet despite the stresses of getting back to work and dropping the kids off at school, therapist Ash Rehn said that there are also many couples that grow closer during the summer months.

"Some people kind of relax and rekindle their relationships. I can't say which is more common," Rehn said. "But when summer comes around and you have a lot of time to reflect on life and your relationship, I can understand people asking if they are happy."

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Rehn recommended therapy, but said that starting off with one-on-one sessions with each spouse individually could be more effective than having the couple come in together from the get-go.

"Sometimes it is so stressful in the relationship and there is so much tension in the air that it's difficult to work together," Rehn said. "Because they are so angry with each other."

At first, it is not uncommon for feuding lovers to heap blame on their partners rather than talk about their feelings. Doubting the therapist's neutrality can also be an issue at first.

"The reluctant one often assumes that the therapist will be a partial referee. You have to work through all that before you get people talking," Rehn said.

Ann Törnkvist

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