Research from the Open University (Enduring Love:Couple Relationships Into The 21st Century) looked at how and why couples couples stay together in a long-term relationship. Unsurprisingly perhaps they found that mutual interests or shared activities had a hugely positive impact on couples. These shared activities could be as simple as watching a favorite TV show or box-set on a regular basis. However it’s not the TV watching that’s crucial, it’s talking about the show afterwards and relating to one another. Dancing, whether it be in the kitchen or at a class or club was also found to be important in terms of making and re-living happy memories.
Parents were found to be less happy in their relationships but happier in their lives overall when compared with non-parents. Parents were found to be least likely to find time for each other and pursue shared interests, and also least likely to say “I love you” and talk openly to one another.
When it came to sex, this was ranked as more important to non-parents compared to parents. The study suggests that either parenthood diminishes the need for physical affection or that a busy family life gets in the way of sex. However for all men (parents or not) sex was something that made them feel appreciated and loved. Interestingly sexual frequency was not linked to overall relationship satisfaction for mothers or fathers. So as long as sex continues for parents, the frequency isn’t implicated in happiness. More secrets will be revealed next time!