The Semi-Detached Parent: Family glue
Do you think more couples would stay together if they were TAUGHT how to have a good relationship? A family charity is launching a nationwide programme of 'preventative relationship education' with the aim of reducing break-ups amongst married and co-habiting parents in the early stages of family life.
Care for the Family say that 50 per cent of breakdowns occur in the first three years of parenthood – something they put down to the physical and emotional strain of having a child. Their 'Let's Stick Together' sessions will teach new mums and dads 'relationship building principles' under three concepts: bad habits to avoid, good habits to build, friendship and involvement.
The scheme has been successfully pioneered in Bristol for five years and will now be rolled out to other areas, and eventually, nationwide, via postnatal clinics, and under the tutelage of trained volunteers.
During Prime Minister Questions this week, David Cameron supported the idea of relationship education for new parents, saying it was 'absolutely vital'. Hmmm. IS it though?
With hindsight, and a bit of brutal honesty, I know that no amount of support, education, mediation, therapy or lessons would have saved my relationship.
Once upon a time, I thought it could have: there was one particular issue which eventually broke us up, and I had often wondered that if I'd addressed earlier on in the relationship, perhaps we wouldn't have ended up how we have – separated and with a confused small person to ease through the process in the least traumatic way possible.
Our problems were already there, festering under the surface, before our child was born. And now that time has given me more clarity on the subject, I know that I should never have chosen to have a child in a relationship that was not stable, compatible, or likely to be forever. Whilst I do not for one moment regret having my son, I know I should not have had him in a relationship I knew had such huge flaws.
Relationship education would not helped me, but that's not to say it is not a useful resource for couples who BOTH genuinely and honestly want their marriage or partnership to work. Genuinely being the operative word, because I believe - through experience and observation - that if one partner has even the slightest smidgen of wanting out, then eventually, things will fall apart, no matter how hard they try to ignore the issues and play happy families.
Sadly, we seldom realise this with our love affairs until there is an innocent little person in the mix, too, and our relationship problems become theirs as well.
So while Let's Stick Together sounds a fabulous scheme, I can only see that it really will work for those who already have an abundance of family glue.
What do you think? Would you have liked relationship education following the birth of your children?