As Valentine’s Day approaches, Relate offers advice on how to make more time for your relationship

Vassos Alexander and wife Caroline

Vassos Alexander and wife Caroline

More than one in ten UK adults in a relationship (11%) say they “never” find dedicated time to spend with their partner and five per cent find dedicated time to spend time together just once or a few times a year. This is according to figures released by relationship support charity, Relate ahead of Valentine’s Day.

The good news is that almost half (45%) manage to spend dedicated time with their partner, such as a date night, once a week or more. A reassuring eight per cent find time for each other once a fortnight and 12% do so once a month.

According to the research, partners with children are considerably less likely to find time to spend together – 12% said they never find time and 29% said they find time once a year or a few times a year.  The younger the children, the less likely couples were to spend time together.

Relate, which provides relationship support to individuals, couples, families, children and young people, says that spending quality time together is a key ingredient for a healthy relationship.  They are concerned that time-strapped couples, particularly those with young children, are struggling to find opportunities to enjoy each other’s company and are offering tips for turning things around.

Relate counsellor, Dee Holmes said:

“Relationships are good for our health and wellbeing so it’s important to make time for them, not only on Valentine’s Day but throughout the year. This can seem difficult when you’re juggling commitments like work and childcare, but if you look after your relationship it’s likely to have a positive effect on other areas of your life.

“Spending time together doesn’t have to mean spending money.  A “date” could happen in your own home and it could just as easily happen during the day. The key is to create space to concentrate on each other.”

Vassos Alexander, sports presenter on BBC Radio Two’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show is married to Caroline, who works as an art consultant. Along with their busy jobs, they have children aged 13, 11 and three, but as listeners to the show will know, they make time for a date each Tuesday. 

Vassos said:

“Carving out weekly time together is genuinely the best thing we do. It reminds us how well we get on. We’re both busy working parents but we ring-fence a few hours every Tuesday for each other. We go for long walks, watch films, visit museums and always have a nice lunch. It’s sometimes difficult to arrange life around this, but we always manage. It reinforces our friendship which in turn makes us better parents. I don’t know many other people who look forward to Tuesdays!”

Relate’s tips on finding time for your relationship:

Remember that dates can be cheap or free. It could be a walk in the park, a bike ride or a trip to the museum.

Keep it fair. Write one list each of things you’d like to do together. Select any activities that appeal to you both, put them in a jar and pick them out randomly.

Step out of your comfort zone. If your partner suggests a date idea that’s not completely up your street, don’t dismiss it immediately. Trying something that’s a bit of a challenge will let you see each other in a new light and you may end up loving it.

Make it work for you. Some people like to try different things each time whereas others prefer a routine and have something they do together each week.

If you’re low on time, try a date hour. This could be a coffee during the day while your kids are at a swimming lesson, an hour eating a meal together with no phones, and no TV just the two of you. You have to eat so why not use that time to connect.

Think beyond Valentine’s Day. If you tend to do something together on Valentine’s Day and enjoy it then make it into a more regular thing. If there’s an element of surprise, even better!

Relate’s non-judgmental services support individuals, couples, families, children, young people and friends to strengthen their relationships. Find out more at www.relate.org.uk. 


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