30 December 2022

Men more likely to have thought about separating next year – poll

30 December 2022

More men than women have thought about separating from their partner next year, a survey suggests.

A poll of 2,033 adults questioned on behalf of charity Relate found that 35% expect the cost-of-living crisis to put pressure on their relationships in the next year, with 39% of men and 31% of women.

Nearly a fifth of adults in relationships (19%) have thought about the prospect of divorce or separation in 2023, according to the survey.

It found that a quarter of men said they had thought about this compared with 14% of women.

It’s important for partners to spend quality time together, but some activities like meals out or weekends away come at a cost, as does additional childcare

After the 2008 economic downturn, a Relate study found that couples worst affected by the recession were eight times more likely to suffer relationship breakdown.

January 9 is known as divorce day as lawyers tend to see a peak in enquiries after tensions come to a head over Christmas or people look for a fresh start.

Relate also often sees a peak in enquiries during this time.

Counsellor Josh Smith said: “Financial worries are an issue for many couples and families we see at Relate – particularly when their household income is not keeping pace with the increasing cost of living.

“For couples at the beginning of a relationship, the cost of living can also impact how quickly they move in together, with some making the leap before they feel ready, to save money on bills and rent.”

He said a lack of space for an intimate relationship is often an issue for parents.

“It’s important for partners to spend quality time together, but some activities like meals out or weekends away come at a cost, as does additional childcare.

“Financial pressures can also be problematic for families where there is conflict but the family feel they can’t afford to separate.

“This can be particularly problematic when children are involved, and we know from research that sustained and unresolved parental conflict is more detrimental to children’s emotional health than parental separation,” Mr Smith said.

He said he would encourage couples to talk about financial difficulties openly and make it a shared problem.

“In some of the most painful situations I’ve come across while working for Relate, there have been secrets around money involved.

“Sometimes men can feel like they have to provide for their family and cope with financial problems on their own.

“As debt problems compound over time, the secret can feel harder to share. When it eventually is revealed, it can be very hard for the partner who was kept in the dark, to rebuild trust.

“I would really encourage someone who finds themselves in this situation to talk about it to a friend or write it down in a text, if it’s hard to start the conversation with your partner.

“Making an appointment with a relationship counsellor may also be helpful, even if it’s on your own initially.

“Relate offers a phone chat service where you can book a 30-minute chat with a trained counsellor about a particular issue.

“If you’re experiencing any issues in your relationship, it’s important to talk about it and ideally to get support at the earliest possible stage.”

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