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Is bickering the secret of a healthy, happy relationship? New NatCen research reveals the complex nature of successful partnerships and marriages

New analysis by NatCen Social Research using Understanding Society data 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.

Relationship questions

Participants on Understanding Society are asked a wide range of questions about their family, relationships and well-being, including:

  • How often do you and your partner “get on each other’s nerves”?
  • How often do you discuss or have you considered divorce, separation or terminating your relationship?
  • How often do you calmly discuss something?
  • Do you kiss your partner?

Building on previous NatCen research which revealed 72% of women find their partners irritating, new analysis shows 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

this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website