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A nation of lovers AND fighters

14 February 2014 | Tags: relationships, marriage, cohabiting couples, romance, couples, under

Embargo 00:01 14th Feb 2014

New analysis by NatCen Social Research finds that while 86% of us are happy in our relationships, half of us say we do sometimes bicker

New analysis by NatCen Social Research of the Understanding Society survey  shows that almost 9 in 10 (86%) of us who are married or live with a partner are happy in our relationship and 7% of us say we’re in relationships that couldn’t get any better, describing them as “perfect”.

And yet despite this, 50% of us say we do occasionally squabble with our partners, suggesting that the odd spat is no bad thing. Equally, our contentment doesn’t mean that our partners do not get under our skin; 61% admit that our partners do sometimes get on our nerves.

As well as high levels of happiness in relationships very few British couples are thinking about breaking up, slightly under 3 in 4 (73%) never regret their marriage or having moved in together and 3 in 4 (75%) said we had never considered separating from our partners. 

The analysis of the ESRC funded Understanding Society survey also reveals how couples in the UK are getting on day-to-day:

  • 75% of us say we kiss our partners often
  • 76% of us say we discuss stimulating ideas at least once a week
  • 76% of couples work on a project together at least once per month

Men slightly happier with relationships than women

On a number of measures men show slightly higher levels of satisfaction with their relationship; 63% say that they are “very happy” in their relationship compared with 60% of women. Similarly, 92% of men say that they rarely or never regret getting married or moving in with their partner, compared with 89% of women.

Men are also more positive about their communication and shared activities with their partners - 57% of men say that their partner gets on their nerves, compared with 66% of women. Moreover, more men than women say that they have a stimulating exchange of ideas with their partners, work on projects together and discuss things calmly at least a once week.

Kirby Swales, Team Director at NatCen Social Research commented:

 “The numbers give us something to celebrate as a whole nation on Valentine’s Day. The overwhelming majority of Brits are happy in their relationship, even with the day-to-day gripes and snipes that come with coupledom. We also know that there are some differences between men and women, but they’re not huge – for the most part we are in tune with our partners”

For more information please get in touch with leigh.marshall@natcen.ac.uk on 0207 549 8506/0782 803 1850 or naomi.joyner@natcen.ac.uk on 0207 549 9550/0773 496 0069

Notes to editors

NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

Understanding Society is a unique and valuable academic study that captures important information every year about the social and economic circumstances and attitudes of people living in 40,000 UK households. www.understandingsociety.ac.uk