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Thursday, February 12, 1998 Published at 13:57 GMT


Arguments, rows and sulks, 'til death us do part

Romantics beware! Think twice before sending that Valentine's card. A new survey suggests hearts and roses are the last thing on many couples' minds.

Higher on the agenda are arguing, rowing, bickering, sulking and shouting.

They aren't fussy about where they do it. In bed. In the house. Even on holiday.

And they are not choosy about subjects for rows, either. Personal hygiene. Housework. Interfering parents.

The survey, carried out for Relate (the former Marriage Guidance Council), found that more than a third of those polled quarrelled more than once a week. Couples aged 18 to 34 with young children rowed more than anyone else.

Half the arguments happened in the evenings, 26% at weekends, 23% before a special event.

The main causes of arguments were:

[ image:  ]

  • Money
    Most money rows were about spending priorities.

    [ image:  ]

  • Sex
    Men were more likely than women to argue about lack of foreplay in sex. On sex, 65% of women who argued, argued about how often they make love.

    [ image:  ]

  • Personal habits
    Couples in Scotland and northern England were twice as likely to row about personal hygiene as those in the rest of the country.

    [ image:  ]

  • Work
    Things were tougher for couples who earn less than 10,000, who were twice as likely to argue every day than those who earned more than 20,000. But it's not all rosy for those on the higher incomes - they were more likely to argue about too much time being spent at work and the frequency of sex.

    [ image:  ]

  • Housework
    Women thought men did not do enough housework. Men agreed.

    [ image:  ]

  • Parents
    Half of those who argued about their parents did so because they felt their parents interfered.

    [ image:  ]

  • Friends
    And 40% of rows over friends were because of a partner's behaviour in front of friends.

    Relate's Chief Executive, Sarah Bowler, said the survey confirmed the stresses and tensions which couples had every day.

    "The findings confirm that many couples cope with their arguments. For those who don't, however, talking to a Relate counsellor can help them discover what lies behind their rows and bickering," she said.

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