THE high rate of divorced and separated people in ports and seaside towns could be due to something in the air, experts said yesterday.
The census shows that Blackpool has a higher proportion of divorced and separated people (15.2 per cent) than anywhere else in England and Wales.
Close on its heels are Hastings (15 per cent), Torbay (13.4 per cent), Eastbourne (13.3 per cent), Weymouth (13 per cent), Portsmouth (12.9 per cent), Plymouth (12.8 per cent) and Southend-on-Sea (12.8 per cent).
The stress and strain of seasonal work, combined with a highly mobile population and an unusually high aversion to rainfall, could all be responsible, according to a spokeswoman for Relate, the leading relationship guidance organisation. Couples who depend on tourism for a living can be disproportionately affected by the weather, particularly rain, which is good for some, such as restaurateurs, but bad for others, such as fairground operators.
When the weather puts strains on peoples incomes, this can have knock-on effects in their relationships, she said.
The frenetic pace of work during high season, followed by the doldrums of mid-winter, can also place strains on the relationships of couples working in holiday resorts, she added, as people have difficulties adjusting to the emotional highs and lows of their work. These types of situations of high stress can be very positive for some couples who like a challenge but it can be very damaging to others, she said.
The regular influx of strangers into resorts during summer can also place temptation in the way of those struggling to come to terms with the pressure of work.
Another possible contributory factor could be the presence of naval bases. Service lives bring their own stresses, with long periods of separation and difficult hours that personnel have to work, the Relate spokeswoman said.
Recent research published by Sven Wilson, assistant professor of political science at Utah University, has also found that armed forces personnel who have experienced combat are 60 per cent more likely than civilians to get divorced.