In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a big sporting event happening in Brazil at the moment. Quite a few countries are participating, and it involves kicking a ball for 90 minutes. Yes, the World Cup is in full swing!
Many women, and some men, lament big events such as the World Cup, particularly if their other half is really into sport. Some complain that they never see their partner as they’re always down at the pub or round at a friend’s house watching the game.
But does football really have negative effects on couple relationships?
Birth rates rise
There have been reported cases of rising birth rates nine months after a team’s sporting success.
After the 2002 World Cup, there was a slight rise (0.25%) in the birth rate in England and Wales, which sociologists attribute in part to England’s achievement in reaching the World Cup quarter finals.
Birth rates also rose after England’s 1966 win and when the team made the 1970 quarter finals.
According to a study in the British Medical Journal, births in the Catalan region of Spain increased by 16% nine months after FC Barcelona won the 2009 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United.
‘Our results may have several different interpretations,’ the authors of the study wrote. ‘One is that human emotions on a large scale can profoundly affect demographic swings in populations, that national or regional events can reduce the weight of reason and increase the weight of passion.’
Virtual football is a turn-off
In a 2012 survey of 1,124 newly-single individuals, conducted by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, 12% of respondents specifically mentioned that the EA Sports football game FIFA 13 was a contributing factor which lead to the decline of the relationship.
Of this 12%, nearly half claimed that their relationship broke-down due to the gamer spending more time playing on the virtual pitch than spending quality time with their partner. 31% said the game cause a ‘change of mood’ in the relationship.
Dating apps soar
While players have been scoring on the field, fans at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil have been trying their best to score in the online dating world.
According to dating app Tinder, there has been a rise in usage in Brazil since the start of the football tournament.
‘The average user spends more than one hour a day on tinder, approximately 77 minutes’ explains Tinder spokesperson Rosette Pambakian. ‘And that number is up by nearly 50% in Brazil since the start of the World Cup.’
Couples that play together…
We know the benefits of regular exercise, as well as the benefits of exercising with your other half. A study in from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that married partners who join a gym together are likely to stay committed to their exercise regime.
‘When a couple works out together, the actual exercise itself can physically and emotionally have a positive impact,’ explains relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer. ‘Both partners come away with feelings of synchronicity, cooperative spirit and shared passion.’
Of course, exercise doesn’t have to be confined to the gym. Why not grab a ball and head to the park with your partner for some 1-on-1 footie action?
Couples tend to get a lot of attention when they make the transition to parenthood. But when couples decide they want to have more children and extend the family, they don’t get the same level of support.
Evidence does suggest that couples who plan to have a second child have a strong ability to keep their relationship strong and are therefore more likely to stay together. However, that doesn’t mean that couples who are planning baby number don’t need any help.
Read on for tips on how to cope with a growing family
Making the decision together
The happiest couples with children tend to be those who make a joint decision to become parents. If both parents share the same intentions and both are actively involved in the decision making process, then they tend to handle the experience of a growing family much better.
If you want to have more children try sitting down together and planning what you want. Consider the following:
- how many children do you imagine having?
- how far apart would you ideally like the children to be born?
- what sort of role do you imagine playing in the upbringing of future children? Will the balance of care giving change?
You may also want to discuss how day-to-day things will change. Consider how you will manage caring for the first and second child, how you will split chores, how your sleeping patterns will be affected and how you will schedule ‘couple time’.
Children are rather expensive to care for so when an extra child comes along, money will become even tighter.
Men typically tend to spend more time at work when a family grows – this can also cause strain on the couple and family relationships.
If you’re planning to have another child, or are currently expecting another child, it may be worth considering the following:
- Can both of you work if you have more children?
- Will one partner be expected to work extra hours in order to provide?
- Are you able to afford childcare?
- Are relatives or trusted friends available to help provide childcare if you can’t cover the cost?
There are countless types of disability and physical impairment in the world. And just as no two people are the same, no two people go through the same experience of living with a disability.
However, there are many issues that people with a disability share – one such issue is a lack of intimacy in a couple relationship.
The impact of disability on intimacy
Physical and mental health disorders, long term disability and illness can lead to decreased sexual activity and satisfaction for people of all ages and genders.
According to findings from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, even small mobility issues such as finding it difficult to walk up a flight of stairs can have an impact on a person’s sex life.
What’s considered sexy?
Some people think that sexuality and disability are separate and that people with a disability or impairment cannot feel desire or be desirable to others.
If a disability is incredibly limiting and a person is unable to do things for themselves, such as dress, bathe, eat, or go to the toilet, people assume they can’t – or shouldn’t – be having sex.
This assumption is not only felt amongst able-bodied people, but within the disabled community as well.
In a study of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, many women stated that they had doubts over their attractiveness when they were given the news.
Cancer patients (who are classed as being disabled whilst undergoing cancer treatment) also have been known to lose their self-esteem and have doubts over how desirable they are to their partner.
If you are suffering from low self-esteem, you may want to take a look at our tips for building self-esteem with your partner.
Tips for overcoming barriers and building intimacy
It’s important to know you or your partner’s limits when it comes to sex. If a part of the body has lost feeling or you can’t enjoy certain positions, movements or sexual activities make sure you discuss this with your partner.
Discuss what feels good and what doesn’t. You may have to try a few things out before you find something that works for you. Whatever you do, do it at your own pace.
If sex is too difficult, there are other ways of remaining intimate with your partner. Try some of the following:
- Gentle touching and stroking
- Holding hands
- Other sexual contact such as mutual masturbation
Most of us are aware that the frequency and intensity of sexual contact in a couple relationship tends to reduce over time.
But it’s not as dire as you’d expect. Research has found that 47% of married women aged between 66 and 71 are sexually active and 60% of men and women over the age of 50 are happy with their sex lives.
That’s not to say that mature couples don’t experience issues in the bedroom.
Health and the menopause
For many mature couples, health problems have a big effect on their sex lives. NATSAL research recently found that 29% of men aged between 65 and 74 feel that their health has affected their sex life. In comparison, just 17% of men in all other age groups feel this way.
For some women, sexual desire can increase after menopause – possibly because they are no longer afraid of falling pregnant, or because they are no longer feeling stressed out by their menstrual cycle.
Post-menopausal women can experience some difficulties that may disrupt sexual activity such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and painful uterine contractions at orgasm.
Some women also experience reduced feelings of desire and can go through periods of mourning as they come to terms with the changes to their and their partners’ bodies.
Top tips for keeping sexual desire alive:
- Keeping the lines of communication open is key to improving your sex life. But timing is everything: it’s best not to bring up any issues you have during sex as it’s such an intimate and vulnerable setting. When you talk to your partner about any issues you have with your sex life, be sensitive and make sure to provide positive feedback so you don’t discourage your partner.
- Remember it’s not all about penetrative sex. Sexual activity doesn’t begin and end with intercourse. There are many other ways couples can give each other sexual pleasure and orgasms in ways that doesn’t require erections or vaginal penetration. Once you take the focus off of the orgasm and intercourse, you may find that your sexual experiences will become more intimate, erotic and arousing.
- Get comfortable. Many women need to feel comfy before enjoying sex. One way to do this is to set the scene, light some candles, use scents and play some relaxing music. The use of lubricants will also help women who suffer from vaginal dryness feel more comfortable during penetration.
- Be adventurous by bringing toys into the bedroom. Sex aids such as vibrators, dildos and ticklers, as well as videos and erotic novels all have the potential to improve a couple’s sex life. If you’re unsure about trying new things read this article for further tips.
As the number of older adults who are single continues to rise, it’s never been more common to start dating in later life.
Whether you’re recently separated, bereaved or have been single for a long time, you may have some worries about starting a new relationship.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the common worries late in life daters may have and offer some tips and advice. But to start off, here are a few key facts:
- In a US survey of unmarried 57-85 year olds, 14% said they were in a dating relationship
- The number of men over the age of 65 who are getting married has increased 25%
- Cohabitation is becoming increasingly common among older adults without marriage
Do we want the same thing?
When entering into a new relationship, you need to be honest with yourself and your new partner about your intentions. You may want something casual, or you may be hoping for something long-lasting. Whatever your intentions, be sure to discuss these with your new partner – but also be open to change. You never know what the future holds and your expectations for the relationship may alter over time.
Will sex be the same as it used to be?
Research shows that people who enjoyed having sex throughout their 30s and 40s are more likely to continue an active sex life into later life. One report found that 84% of over 50s are sexually active.
However, it’s important to have your health and wellbeing in mind. Sexually transmitted diseases for people in their 50s, 60s and 70s have doubled in the last decade. So when you have sex with a new partner, make sure to discuss contraception methods and have condoms etc handy, just in case!
What about the family?
If you are a parent, chances are you no longer have childcare commitments to think about.
That being said, you may be concerned about introducing your adult children to a new partner.
If you think the relationship is becoming serious, talk to your children and tell them your feelings about your new partner before introducing them to him or her. Chances are, your children will be happy that you’re moving on and finding someone new.
If your children are hesitant, just be aware that they are only looking out for you – much in the same way you looked out for them when they were first dating!
Inheritance is another common concern for older people in new relationships. If you and your partner have children, you may decide to keep your assets separate so that you can pass on your inheritance to your sons, daughters and grandchildren. Your other half may have a different opinion on this matter, so be sure to discuss this together.
For many older couples, retirement is a long-awaited event where they can finally fulfil life-long dreams.
While this transition can be exciting, retirement comes with its own set of unique challenges that will affect your couple relationship.
Adjusting to retired life together
If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, you’ve probably settled into a routine. You wake up, have breakfast together, head off to work, come home in the evening, eat dinner and so on. The most time you probably spent together was at weekends. But now that you’re retired, you will be around each other a lot more.
Suddenly having to spend so much time together with your partner can be difficult to cope with. Recent research conducted by Skipton Building Society found that 40% of retired couples had to learn how to live with each other again and 25% said that managing their relationship was trickier than they imagined it would be.
One way couples are easing themselves through this transitional period if by choosing a gradual retirement instead of a direct shift from full-time employment to full-time retirement.
Skipton Building Society’s research also found that nearly a third (29%) of couples feel that their expectations of retirement are different.
Other research, conducted for the 2013 Fidelity Investment Couple Retirement Study, found that 38% of US couples disagree on the lifestyle they will live once they reach their retirement years.
Perhaps your partner plans on selling up and moving to Wales to raise sheep, while you plan on taking a cruise around the world before settling back in your family home and spending more time with your grandchildren.
Whatever your expectations, it’s important that you sit down together and discuss your plans. In doing so, you’re better prepared and there will be no disappointments. If you have different ideas, only through discussion you will be able to come to a compromise.
A common cause for conflict among retired couples is the division of household labour.
If you are in a relationship where one partner tackles the household chores while the other works, the partner who typically does the housework may be under the impression that once the other retires, they’ll help them around the house more often. However, the other partner may have other ideas!
It’s a good idea to start designating household tasks and agree on who does what. Perhaps one of you will do the cooking and cleaning while the other takes care of household maintenance and gardening duties.
Despite mums traditionally dealing with the majority of childcare, a new study has revealed that three quarters of men would be happy to quit work during their son or daughter’s first year so that their partner can return to work.
And almost one in twenty men are already responsible for looking after their children while their partner goes to work.
It also emerged that 72% of women would be happy for their partner to look after the children with 65% worrying about the effect on their career of time off work.
The statistics emerged in a study commissioned by national law firm Irwin Mitchell a month before a change in the law which will see couples having the opportunity to share parental leave.
These results show the new laws designed to encourage parents to share time off work following the birth of their child might prove more popular than government predictions had previously stated.
Irwin Mitchell employment partner Glenn Hayes said: “For a long time now, the traditional roles have seen dads returning to work just days after their baby has been born, while mums take a year or so away from their career to look after the children.
“But it’s becoming easier, and more acceptable, for dads to take on the role of caregiver, while mums become the main breadwinner. It seems the majority of men are happy to have it this way around.
“Thanks to changes coming into effect in April, working couples will be able to share that period of leave over the first year, meaning neither one has to miss out on such a large amount of time away from their career or baby.
“Shared parental leave is one of the most significant changes to flexible working rights but it is still uncertain how many families are expected to take up the new right.
“According to Government projections, as few as 5,700 men will apply over the next 12 months, but the figures in this survey suggest that the appetite for doing so could be much stronger with take-up being much higher.
“So it’s important businesses and employers prepare for the changes before they come into force, and know their rights as well as those of their employees.”
The study of 2,000 men and women found 66% of men would be happy to take on the role of stay-at-home dad, while another three quarters would happily work part-time to allow their partner to return full-time.
Four in 10 say this is down to them wanting to be a bigger part of their child’s life than they would be if they worked full-time while 19% worry they will miss out on too much of their child’s life otherwise.
More than a third say it’s the most sensible option for them as their partner earns more than them, with another 23% not enjoying their job [as much as their partner].
One in twenty said taking the time off work will be less detrimental to their career than that of their partner.
Other reasons men want to take on the childcare role include it being easier for them to work around school or nursery hours than their partner.
Sixty-one% claimed they would be happy to become a stay-at-home dad, even if it had a detrimental effect on their career in the future.
But the research found that whilst most would be happy to share their decision, 23% of men wouldn’t be comfortable telling their friends about their plan to be a stay-at-home dad, while 49% would be worried about others judging them.
Glenn Hayes added: “These figures may take businesses by surprise and it is vital that they deal effectively with what is an extremely complex piece of legislation.
“It is important that employees start their conversations with their employers as early as possible. Many businesses have been slow to prepare themselves for this important change and in doing so have left themselves exposed open to the risk of mishandling requests and inviting claims for discrimination.”
Shared Parental Leave rules allow parents whose children are born or adopted from 5th April to share up to 50 weeks of parental leave between both parents during the first year.
Previously, the majority of dads had two weeks’ paternity leave while mums could have up to 12 months’ maternity leave and nine months’ paid maternity leave.
Where do you go to learn about relationships? To help young adults get more information on the realities of being in a couple, relationships charity OnePlusOne has launched LoveSmart.
The online tool uses relationship science and interactive animations to encourage users to set boundaries, communicate effectively and understand their emotions. The site also looks at sex and intimacy within a broader context of dating and forming relationships.
‘The site covers matters such as “What kind of relationship am I in?”, “Do I have to have sex?” and “Can I be friends with my ex?”’ says OnePlusOne Director Penny Mansfield. ‘Our hope is that we can answer the questions of young adults while showing them how to improve the quality of their relationships.’
OnePlusOne has identified a need for young adults to be given more education on couple relationships. Recent research findings have shown that many young adults feel that they are missing out on this when at school and some are turning to pornography to learn more about sex.
‘It’s a myth to assume that the only thing young adults are interested in is sex,” continues Mansfield. ‘They care very much about their relationships as we discovered recently at an event we attended held by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB).’
In a snap poll of 166 people, we at theCoupleConnection asked if any of our users wish that they received Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) at school. The vast majority (79%) said they wish they had received RSE at school, 14% said no and 7% said that they did receive RSE when they were in education.
In a separate poll, we also asked our users whether they think that RSE should be mandatory in British schools. Nearly three quarters (73%) agreed that it should be mandatory while 10% said no. Some were sitting on the fence – 8% said maybe – and some had no idea what relationships education was (9%).
If you’re about to have a baby, you may have heard all manner of scare stories about how your relationship will suffer. It doesn’t always have to be that way. We’ve scoured the research and found some encouraging tips about how to look after your couple relationship as you make the transition to parenthood.
While it’s true that many couples face a decline in relationship satisfaction when they become parents, there are also couples whose relationships maintain strength, and even improve during parenthood . If you feel like you’d rather be one of those couples, read on, but be warned – it’s going to get a little rough before it gets smooth.
Whatever happens, things will change. There’s no point pretending they won’t. If you want to be one of the couples who keep hold of the happiness that their love for each other brings, one of the first things you need to do is acknowledge the risks. You don’t have to be scared of them, but simply knowing what you face will help you avoid the pitfalls.
Let’s be clear: babies are incredibly demanding. They rely on you for food, shelter, cuddles, getting from one soft surface to another and, very importantly, clean underwear. They don’t know how to use a toilet, they sleep irregular hours, and the only way they know how to communicate with you is by crying very loudly. They need you. All the time.
This demand on your time and resources can leave you and your partner feeling very tired, and tiredness can wreak havoc on your emotions. You’re learning new skills, you’re exhausted, and you’ve got less free time than you used to have. It can be hard (impossible, even) to squeeze in things like nights out with friends, trips to art galleries, snuggles on the sofa, lazy days with the Sunday papers, and that old cherished pastime, sex.
With all this new activity, exhaustion, and decrease in couple activities, you won’t be surprised to find yourselves feeling a little raw and ragged. It’s no wonder that new parents sometimes find themselves snapping at each other about who does all the housework and who was supposed to pick up nappies on their way home from going out to buy nappies.
But there is a glimmer of hope: not all new parents experience a decline in relationship satisfaction. In fact, some couples find they adapt so well to the changes that the shared experience of parenting can bring them closer together than they were before.
Research has thankfully shown that there are certain things you can do which will help you maintain a good relationship as you make the transition to parenthood:
Talk to each other
When you’re considering trying for a baby, one thing you might want to think about is how well you communicate now, and what you can do to improve things. Research shows that couples who have good communication before the pregnancy are likely to be happier with their relationships after the baby is born.
Remember you’re a couple and keep saying “I love you”
Having a baby will change your identity. As well as being a friend, a lover, an electrician (or whatever you are), you’re also going to be someone’s mum or dad. It’s not just a change in what you do; it’s an extra part of who you are. But remember that you’re also still a partner and a lover. Making an effort to express your love and affection for your partner is one of the things successful couples do to ensure their relationships don’t suffer.
Acknowledge that things are going to change
You don’t have to be terrified, but you do need to acknowledge that things are going to be different in your relationship. Admit this to yourself, and talk about it with your partner. Research shows that when couples have similar expectations of parenthood, they are more likely to cope better with the changes.
Be realistic. Accept that you’re going to be busier, and that it’s going to be harder to find time for intimacy for a while. Talk about how you’re going to handle this together. Even if it turns out to be tougher than you expected, you’ll be facing the challenges together, and you’ll find it easier to talk about further adjustments that you need to make. Whatever you do, just keep communicating.
Let your family help
Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone. Your family might not be local, or they might just not be very helpful but, if you can lean on your child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., then do. Wider family can offer tips and advice if they’ve had children of their own (you don’t always have to follow this advice, of course!) and much needed practical support. If your family aren’t much help, perhaps you’d find it easier to lean on close friends. Most people love to feel helpful, so you should never feel guilty for accepting help.
Relationship status? It’s complicated
When people list their relationship status as “it’s complicated”, you may wonder what could be so complicated about it. Surely you are simply ‘single’ or ‘in a relationship’, right? Well, new research has emerged suggesting that for young people in particular, it’s not necessarily so straightforward. Although monogamy – an exclusive relationship with one partner – is still considered the ‘norm’ in our society, more casual relationships are increasingly common for adolescents.
When someone says ‘I’m in a relationship’, there’s a good chance you’ll picture a man and a woman in a steady, sexually exclusive relationship. And you wouldn’t be alone with that assumption. A study by four authors published. in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships , confirmed that despite Western society becoming ever more permissive and accepting, monogamy is still considered to be the most desirable and ‘normal’ way to engage in a relationship.
So what’s the problem? Well, monogamy being placed as ‘the normal thing to do’ can mean that anyone choosing a non-traditional form of relationship, such as polyamory (multiple partners) or an open relationship (not sexually exclusive) may feel marginalised and excluded when it comes to sex and relationship advice and education. They may feel stigmatised or experience rejection or bullying from peers, or perhaps disapproval from parents. It can be confusing for those who may not know how to classify their relationship. And this could be a problem for an increasing number of young people today.
Despite the fact that monogamy remains the ‘ideal’ for many in society, it appears that other relationships have become much more common over the last 20 years or so. A study conducted by Jean Williams and Jasna Jovanovic for Sexuality and Culture (Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 157-171) states that “recent research on adolescent sexuality finds that casual relationships appear to be gaining acceptance among heterosexual emerging adults”. An example of ‘casual’ would be the approach colloquially recognised as ‘friends with benefits’. This is when two friends agree to have casual sex with no strings attached and continue to define their relationship as ‘friends’ rather than ‘a couple’.
A study from New Zealand into what young people define as a ‘relationship’ showed that definitions are just not that clear cut. The researchers discovered that it depends on a vast multitude of factors such as how much time the couple spend together, their emotional investment in one another and decisions made about whether or not it is ok to sleep with other people. These different considerations all contribute to defining a relationship in different ways. Boundaries are often quite blurry, making many relationships difficult to categorise – both for the couples themselves and for the people that observe those couples in society. Categorising your own relationship or give it a label could be an even more daunting task in the face of a society which holds monogamy up as the ‘right’ way to be.
Should we be concerned about the increasing informality of young people’s relationships? Studies have shown that whilst young people are not necessarily reporting more sexual partners than previous generations, they are definitely revealing a very different, more informal approach to relationships. A sociological study by Ann Meier and Gina Allen describes how these casual ways of being with another are often a stepping stone for young people who are exploring what it means to be in ‘a relationship’. They suggest that young people often progress steadily from short, casual relationships to longer relationships and eventually a single long-term relationship. Essentially, this means that although young people today may be taking a less traditional path, they tend to end up at the same destination as the generations who have gone before.
However, the fact that they may steadily move into the more socially acceptable and ‘normal’ realm of traditional coupledom doesn’t necessarily help a young person who might need support dealing with their current, more complicated relationship. Let’s face it; relationships are confusing at the best of times, even without all these extra factors to consider.
Communication appears to be the key to both understanding and navigating these shifting types of relationship. If you are supporting young people with sex and relationship issues, it may be useful to remember that these relationships could be more complex than they first appear. Couples should feel able to talk to each other about their relationship: where is it going? Are we exclusive or not? Do we present ourselves to others as a couple or as friends? Being able to talk about the relationship and its boundaries removes some of the painful uncertainty associated with more casual encounters. As non-traditional relationships become more common, these types of conversations between people become more important. Accepting that relationships can be diverse and being willing to talk about different kinds of connections beyond the monogamous ‘norm’ could prove instrumental in helping young people today to navigate the ever shifting boundaries of what it means to be ‘in a relationship’.