Couples who were hit hardest by the recent economic downturn were eight times more likely to separate than others, according to new research from relationship charity Relate.
Couples who experienced financial hardship during the recession were also more likely to have experienced deterioration in the quality and stability of their relationships.
The study examined 20,000 Brits. They were grouped according to the severity of the recession’s impact on their lives, as determined by factors such as job loss, being behind on household bills, job satisfaction and overall perception of their financial situation.
The results indicated that “financial shocks and unemployment” could be detrimental to the stability of a relationship as they could increase conflict, decrease mental wellbeing and even affect physical health.
Ruth Sutherland, the Chief Executive of Relate, said that financial strains became “too much to bear for some” during the recession.
Despite the economic recovery, she added, a “social recession” was still being felt.
Sutherland went on to urge the government to make relationships “a central priority in public policy”. She said: “A social recovery is now needed”.
The findings of this study seem to contradict earlier data. Last year, the Marriage Foundation said there was “no evidence whatsoever” that the recession led to more divorces.
I think this does bear out what we’ve found, that the ‘squeezed middle’ does exist and it did certainly lead to an increase in strained relationships and divorce as a result.