When does romance in marriage fade?

This weekend, I got caught up in a discussion that was taking place on the BBC Breakfast sofa.

The weekend show’s Breakfast presenters had a discussion with a couple that had been married for 38 years and Harry Benson from the Marriage Foundation. They were discussing their take on some recent research, which claimed that after 3 and a half years, marriages go somewhat downhill and sharing their own experiences and thoughts in response.

Would you say that is useful information or an unwelcomed cautionary tale for those of us who have not yet reached that early milestone in our marriage?

For me, it’s not encouraging or discouraging, but a great opportunity to take a few moments to positively question whether we are starting to be guilty of taking our partner for granted, as the research mentioned.

According to the research commissioned by the Co-operative Food (via the article I read on Female First),

“Couples begin to stop making an effort with the simplest of tasks such as eating together, looking nice for one another and having deep conversations.

And instead of cuddling up on the couch or going to bed at the same time to rekindle their love in the bedroom, they will go to bed at different times.

This, as well as sitting in different rooms of the house and seeing friends more than each other, shows that couples will begin to take each other for granted after the three and a half year mark.”

Kate Jones of Co-operative Food, which commissioned the study, said, “We all know that it’s the little things that make a big difference, so adding a bit of quality time, like re-introducing ‘date nights’ or enjoying a meal in together, could be a good way to show you care.”

Now, if you are raising your eyebrows questioning the validity and merit of research conducted by a food company, let me address your scepticism now. Yes… this research was conducted in the name of PR. It is a way for the organisation to promote a message that aligns with their brand… in this case… encouraging couples to eat together more (and perhaps by their groceries at the Co-op while they are at it).

How to I know this? I spent 3.5 years (indeed, that magic number cited in this survey) working for a PR agency where part of my role was working with clients to establish research led campaigns that would generate media coverage for their brands.

Does that mean that this research is a load of ol’ hogwash? Absolutely NOT.

While the source of the statistics isn’t some sort of government think tank (a source which we may question these days anyway) – this sort of research is robust and when sourced through a reputable agency, is conducted within market research society guidelines. The 2000 people questioned genuinely responded, admitting habits which suggest that romance in their relationships is fading.

Personally, I am appreciative of anything which does make us stop, think (and where necessary… act) positively with an aim of improving our relationships.

Interestingly, in this research, two thirds of couples said they had a strong marriage – with a massive 90 per cent of people said they only do these things because they feel so comfortable with their partner. Three quarters of couples even saw being taken for granted as a normal part of a long relationship. Do you agree?

In reporting this research, The Telegraph helpfully compiled a list of 50 tell-tale signs that you are starting to take your partner for granted. If you recognise a number of these in your relationship, it may be worth giving a renewed focus to your relationship (no matter what the source of the research)… and if this has provided you with food for thought, I hope you’ll consider checking out my new career coaching book “Happily Ever After for Grown-Ups: A Non-Fairytale, Post-Wedding, Blues-Busting Guide for Newlyweds” – and related workshops – in your mission to balance your own relationship and career success ambitions.

Romance fading_married couple

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