Here’s some news that will either freak you out or make you feel less alone (or maybe both): Couples today are four times as likely to break up after just three years rather than seven. In other words, the traditional seven-year itch has dwindled down to a measly three. The number one cause of breakups? Children. Yup, turns out your little bundle of joy is putting the greatest strain on your relationship. Or so is the case for a vast majority of moms who took part in a survey by British parenting site Netmums.
Researchers surveyed 1500 people to find out about their relationships and how they’re affected by the pressures of modern parenting. More than 40% of respondents said that having children has driven them apart (compared with 33% who said children have actually brought them closer together).
From my own experience and that of my friends, I see it as a combination of the two: on the one hand, we sit and marvel at these little beings we’ve created and, well, if that doesn’t bond a couple then I don’t know what will. On the other hand, parenting is a lot of work and often requires the patience of a saint. It’s trying stuff, and so many couples I know become more like business partners than anything else (which sucks). So I can see both sides here. Nonetheless, the fact remains that many couples are splitting up because of the stresses of parenthood – and according to this latest study, they’re certainly not riding out the storm.
Not surprisingly, almost 80% said their relationship suffered as a result of exhaustion caused by caring for kids. Other causes include money worries or debt, as well as a lack of time together sans kids. Meanwhile, half admit that the spark seems to have left their relationship and 46% say that the lack of sex post-delivery created difficulties.
Another big factor is that many couples are meeting later in life and then having children right away, but they haven’t spent time getting to know each other. In fact, one in 20 couples surveyed said they were expecting a baby within three months of getting together and 15% within a year.
“Relationships are tough at the best of times, but add in young children, lack of time, work and money worries and it’s little surprise couples are splitting up earlier than ever before,” said Netmums founder Siobhan Freegar. “There is unprecedented pressure on women to be the perfect wife, mother and career woman while men are feeling more and more unsure of their role.”
What do you think? Are we living in an age of instant gratification? Are our expectations too high? Or are the pressures of modern life – and parenting – tearing us apart?