Family Law Expert Nicola Walker
Don't Relegate Your Partner To The Subs' Bench During The World Cup Advises Family Law Expert
A leading family lawyer is advising Midlands' footie fans to be sympathetic to the needs of their partners to avoid the possibility of the World Cup in South Africa causing long-term injuries to their relationships.
Nicola Walker, a partner in the family law practice at the Midlands' offices of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, says spending the duration of the tournament watching the world's finest players, rather than interacting with our other halves, can come with penalties of its own.
"As the finals loom, I would encourage football fanatics to think about the many existing pressures we exert on our relationships and compromise a little, perhaps by making a special effort to enjoy some quality time with their partners," says Nicola.
She believes that partners who aren't interested in the sport might begin to feel relegated to the subs' bench. Given that it's important to have shared interests, fans may want to try and persuade their partners to watch some of the matches too.
In the light of her family law team's experience, she is concerned that the start of the World Cup on June 11 in Johannesburg – and especially England's opening game against the USA in Rustenburg the following day - will not only kick-off on-pitch confrontation in South Africa but may lead to clashes back home too.
"Emotions among England fans will run very high, whether the team is winning or losing," explains Nicola. "Extended drinking sessions to celebrate the wins or drowning sorrows, and sulking should things not go according to plan on the pitch, can create an atmosphere where friction can accumulate and, before you know it, you're having a huge row.
"This is especially dangerous because factors such as non-communication and lack of attention are the most commonly mentioned reasons for divorce. Motives for separation in the past were much more substantive, whereas now they're to a greater extent about personal growth and feelings.
"And let's not forget the additional pressures many couple are under because of the impact of the credit crunch. If money is having to stretch further, the prospect of a partner boozing down the pub with friends while watching the games could be hard to swallow."
Research during the 1998 World Cup in France revealed a third of UK relationships were in danger during the tournament. It showed over half of men regularly rowed with their partner about the amount of time they spent watching and playing sport, and found a third expected the World Cup to play havoc with their relationships. More than 60% of men admitted they found sport more exciting than their partners.
"We noticed an increase in the number of divorce and separation cases we were handling in the Midlands immediately following the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea," continues Nicola. "This summer, patriotic fans like me are hoping Wayne Rooney, Steve Gerrard and team mates can match England's 1966 performance by winning the greatest prize in the sport.
"But we also know the tournament could well signal full-time for some already-shaky relationships, where one partner increases the strain by watching too may passes on the box, rather than making them at their partner."
The latest government statistics reveal that the provisional marriage rate for England and Wales in 2008 was the lowest since calculating began in 1862. Meanwhile there were 121,779 divorces in 2008 in England and Wales, the lowest since 1975.
Nicola concludes: "Should a partner not be open to sharing interest during the World Cup, however, football fans ought to tread carefully. While the divorce rate may have been falling, the tournament may mean the red card for a number of relationships. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a win-win situation for England and the relationships of its fans with their partners."