Counselling charity Relate has carried out nationwide research that has found that 20% of UK couples are likely to separate.
As part of their ‘Understanding Society‘ survey, both married and cohabiting couples were questioned and the results show that almost 3 million people are unhappy in their current relationships.
Couples were asked, as part of the survey, how often they argued and whether divorce was a possibility. They were also asked if they had any regrets about entering into a relationship with their partner and how unhappy they actually were.
The data showed that in 2011 and 2012, the number of relationships that were branded as distressed and the figure is still yet to return to what they once were before the recession took hold.
There is a clear pattern between the recession and the stress placed on a relationship.
This could be down to the financial strain and problems such as unemployment, debt and low income. While the recession may have eased and we seem to be heading into the clear, the same cannot be said for relationship stress levels.
The study also found that nearly 50% of couples admitted that they argued occasionally with almost 7% of these stating that their arguments became severe.
Couples with children under the age of 16 were likely to be in a relationship that left them unhappy or distressed and having their first child is seen as an event that completely changes the quality of the relationship. There were some regrets to getting married for 10% of those who took part in the survey and 9% had thought about divorce.
The breakdown of a relationship is not the real problem but it is more to do with the conflict that comes with it. Therefore, it is not particularly damaging to children when a relationship ends but it is the conflict that can cause more harm.
For those children who are brought up in a relationship that is fraught with conflict and distress, they are likely to experience a number of problems such as mental and physical issues.
It is believed that they are also likely to struggle in school and could even find themselves in trouble with the law. It is common for many couples to put up with their problems for many years before they even consider looking for help.
When that time does arrive, it is often the case that the damage has been done and that the relationship cannot be saved. The results and findings from the study are a huge concern and it shows that families cannot continue to suffer in silence in the way that many do.
Kerry Smith is the head of family law at K J Smith Solicitors, a specialist family law firm who deal with a wide range of issues including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships and prenuptial agreements.