Families with young children feel the strain of modern life on their relationships more than anyone else, according to a survey out today.
Money worries and the daily balancing act of childcare and work are the main factors affecting parents’ relationships, the poll by Relate, the marriage and relationship counselling charity, showed.
Parents with children are much more likely to cite money worries as a top strain on relationships than those without.
And almost a third with youngsters under five said childcare and bringing up children is a major strain.
Parents of under-fives are also more likely to list household chores and family rows as top strains than those without children, and 40% of working parents with children under five agree there is an assumption that the most productive employees put work before family.
Relate’s annual study, entitled The Way We Are Now 2015, co-produced with Relationships Scotland and Marriage Care, is one of the largest of its kind, polling 6,000 people across the UK.
Chris Sherwood, chief executive of Relate, said: “This study provides a unique insight into the state of the nation’s relationships.
“It raises particular concerns for the relationships and well-being of families with young children as they juggle finances, childcare and work.
“We know that financial struggles are one of the biggest talking points in our counselling rooms. But whilst relationship support services help to build the resilience families need to weather these storms, there is also clear potential for wider action from government to address the root causes here.
“In 2014 the UK Government introduced a ‘Family Test’ for public policy, forcing policy-makers to think about the impact of new policies on families like those who took part in our study.
“Our findings leave us in no doubt about why the test is needed. Relationships are the lifeblood of a thriving society - which means that supporting strong relationships should be everybody’s business.”
The study suggests parents are feeling the pressure across many areas of life, and their relationships tend to be of a poorer quality than people without children.
They were also more likely than those without children to put household chores (18 per cent compared with 8 per cent) and family rows (21 per cent compared with 14 per cent) as top strains on relationships.
And 37% of parents said work interferes with home life, personal life and caring responsibilities, compared with 27 per cent of workers without children.
Parents with young children are more likely to argue with their partner and 47% reported never or rarely engaging in outside interests with their partner - compared with 27 per cent of people without children.
Parents who were in a relationship were much more likely to say they had not had sex in the last month (43 per cent) compared with those without children (26 per cent).
Mark Molden, chief executive of Marriage Care, said: “This research reminds us of an important truism: relationships matter to us and affect every aspect of our lives. Revealing the highs and lows that characterise most relationships, it presents us with a critical challenge - if our relationships are so obviously precious to us, are we doing enough to nurture and protect them?”