New Zealand couples are thriving, according to a nationwide survey by counselling agency Relationships Aotearoa Whakawhanaungatanga.
The on-line survey of 1,000 New Zealanders, conducted by ACNielsen, shows 82% place very high importance on partner relationships and 64% find them very satisfying.
Relationships Aotearoa Chief Executive Jeff Sanders said the results are exciting and encouraging. "Traditionally Valentine’s Day is a day for couples to celebrate their relationships. Our research shows that New Zealand couples are in good heart and there is much to be happy about."
Relationships 2005: New Zealanders Attitudes and Experiences, is thought to be the first major survey of its kind. In November ACNielsen interviewed 1,000 people (18 yrs +) on-line about their relationships with family, friends, children and partners, as well as their experiences of single life. The sample was drawn from a panel of 5,000, recruited from telephone and face-to-face research, and was designed to be as representative of the population as possible. The maximum margin of error for a sample of 1,000 was +/- 3.1%. Part I of the survey report on couples has been released on Valentine’s Day.
Among the key findings of the survey:
Relationships are linked to wellbeing and our satisfaction with life. Eighty-five percent of those with partners reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their lives, compared to 68% of single people.
Relationships with partners get better over time: for 7 in 10 people, their relationships are much more satisfying now than they were at the start. Only 13% find satisfaction has decreased.
Couples have high hopes for the future: 68% of respondents see their relationship getting better – another 16% say their relationship has already become more satisfying and they expect it to stay that way.
The top five relationship positives that the survey rated as very important were loyalty (81%), the ability to be myself (78%), fun and laughter (76%), support and listening (75%) and being valued as I am (74%). Having an active sex life came last in the list of 14 options: while 74 percent said it was important, only 29% thought it very important.
Not listening to or understanding each other tops the list of tension triggers, with one in three people identifying this as a source of tension.
Time pressures, including work, are also causes of tension. 28% of the survey said not spending enough time together was an issue and 26% said work took up too much time or attention. Arguments over money also causes problems for 23%.
When it comes to working through the rough patches, accepting responsibility and apologising were the strategies that worked best for most, ahead of 14 other strategies. Two options stood out as unsuccessful: 69% tried ignoring things they were unhappy about but only 17% found it helpful, and 54% tried yelling and shouting at their partner but it worked for just 6%.
One in three people have used counselling to resolve relationship difficulties, though most have no problem confronting the issue with the person concerned (88%) or sharing the problem with family and friends (79%). Nearly half have turned to the internet or books for ideas or information.
Mr Sanders said the survey had provided invaluable insight into what makes relationships "tick".
"What this first part of Relationships 2005 shows is that most New Zealanders are working at their relationships 365 days of the year – not just on Valentine’s Day. They have a good understanding and appreciation for what makes for great relationships and they know that they have to work at them. We are looking forward to sharing the information gleaned from the survey more widely and using it to enhance our own counseling and education services and to develop new resources."
Part II: Single Life and Part III: Experiences of Parenting will be released later in the year, Mr Sanders said.
Download a copy of Relationships 2005, Part 1, Couples here.