All new parents could be given relationship counseling to help stop couples buckling under the pressure of raising children. A Government-funded study based on detailed interviews with 132 men and women calls for a major expansion of informal support because many couples are ill-equipped to deal with common problems.
The study set out to enhance understanding of how adults form relationships and of the emotional, social and economic stressors that confront relationships on a daily basis, and to identify their support needs. Large numbers of men and women spoke candidly and openly about couples’ relationships, pointing to the situations which had been challenging for them and their ability or lack of ability to manage them.
People had experienced a range of problems which had made life difficult and some had failed to protect and maintain their relationship with their partner during those difficulties. In many ways, couples’ support needs were simple. They needed people around them to recognise the stressors and put support in place that addressed their needs – thereby providing the right help, at the right time.
The recommendations are
1. Relationship education should begin early in life and continue as children grow into adulthood.
2. Relationship preparation should be available to couples when they form a committed relationship.
3. Support and advice should be readily available at key transitions and when couples are facing stresses and strains which impact on their relationship.
4. More should be done to break down the barriers to seeking support for relationships in trouble and to encourage couples to seek help as early as possible.
5. Practitioners in a range of agencies should be trained to spot relationship problems, ensure services such as counselling and parenting support are available, and involve men as well as women.
6. Targeted support for specific problems, such as depression and unemployment, and for clusters of problems, should include consideration of the impact of the problem(s) on the couple relationship.
7. More support and advice should be given when relationships are in danger of breaking down, to help couples make informed choices about options for their relationship and the well-being of their children.
8. More support should be provided for new parents and for children whose parents split up.
9. Information, advice and support should be made available in a range of formats and in a wide variety of settings, and more use should be made of community resources, such as parenting advisers in Children’s Centres.
10. Messages need to be given which reflect the reality of couple relationships in the twenty- first century.
(a) stress the need for couples to work at their relationship; (b) acknowledge that all relationships come under stress at some time or other;
(c) encourage partners to have realistic expectations of their relationships, learn to be flexible, adapt to new situations, and develop coping strategies which will see them through;
(d) reassure couples that it is all right to admit to problems and ask for help.
Tor read the full report click here