Nearly a fifth of UK couples close to ‘breaking point’

The UK’s leading relationships charity is warning “families can’t go on like this”


Image: Relate 

Nearly three million people in Britain are in "distressed" relationships with almost a fifth of couples regularly arguing or considering divorce, a new report has claimed.

A study by the charity Relate has warned financial pressure and the stress of parenting are adding strain leaving the equivalent of 1.4 million UK families "at breaking point".

Experts said the findings of the Relationship Distress Monitor report are "very concerning" and warned that constant bickering at home can have a detrimental impact on people’s physical and mental health.

The charity is also worried that fighting can have a "far-reaching" impact on children, who on average do worse in school and are more likely to fall into antisocial behaviour and crime.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at Relate said: “It is hugely concerning that 18% of UK married and cohabiting couples are in distressed relationships.

“Broken and unhealthy relationships can lead to debt, loneliness, health problems, depression, homelessness, and criminality and can have a profound effect on children’s life chances.

“Families can’t go on like this. We need to make sure that Relate’s services are available to everyone, not just those who can afford them, but we can’t do so unless we get donations to subsidise the cost.” 


Researchers looked at data from the UK household study Understanding Society to better understand the state of relationships and family life.

They found that in 2013-14, the most recent year data was available, 2.87 million people were in “distressed” relationships – ones with strains deemed to be "clinically significant" by counsellors.

Relate is now launching its first national appeal, Breaking Point, calling for donations to help subsidise vital services to support families whose relationships and finances are under intense pressure.

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