by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Same-sex couples are more likely to have happy relationships than opposite-sex ones, a new British study found.
A survey of 5,000 British couples published January 14 by Open University was aimed at finding out ways in which couples manage to stay happy through tough times.
'LGBQ participants are more generally positive about and happier with the quality of their relationship and the relationship which they have with their partner' the study found.
Among other conclusions, researchers found that it was 'hard to pin down' what is meant by 'love' in relationships.
'The act of saying 'I love you' is identified as important by men and women alike, but a loving gesture is far more highly valued,' it said. For Brits, that means making a cup of tea for your partner.
Dr. Jacqui Gibb, co-author of the report, said, that 'Grand romantic gestures, although appreciated, don't nurture a relationship as much as bringing your partner a cup of tea in bed or watching TV together.'
Gibb's team found, however, that Gay couples were less likely to be publicly affectionate, for fear of attracting disapproval or unwanted negative attention.
'Public/private boundaries of 'couple display' remain fraught. Many LGBQ couples, especially the younger ones, say they would not hold hands in public for fear of reprisal,' the study said.
Of the 5,000 couples surveyed, about 500 were called back for individualized in-depth interviews. One Gay couple, identified only as Joe and Will from London, confirmed that they restrict their displays of affection out of concern about public reaction.
'Although I've never received physical or face-to-face abuse, I am very aware of stares and raised eyebrows when holding my partner's hand,' Joe told researchers.
'It took us a while to have the confidence to hold hands and kiss on the lips in public, for example, when saying goodbye to each other. We spent a year saying our goodbyes at home in the morning rather than on the Tube, despite us both travelling in together, out of fear of potential disapproving looks or abuse. I know in London it's probably much easier than other parts of the UK, or other countries around the world, but I don't think we'll ever feel 100 per cent comfortable in public as a couple.'
While Gay couples are on average happier than straight ones, straight couples without children tend to be happier than parents, the study found.
'Heterosexual parents are the group least likely to be there for each other, to make 'couple time', to pursue shared interests, to say 'I love you' and to talk openly to one another,' the findings revealed.
While mothers were found to be 'significantly happier with life than any other group,' they also reported that they were the least satisfied with their partners.
When asked who is the most important person in their lives, three-quarters of mothers named their children, while less than half of fathers did so. For men, slightly more than half felt their partners were more important than the children.
'From this it could be inferred that children are the primary source of happiness for women rather than a partner,' the study said, 'something that is corroborated by other survey data.'
Fathers were more likely to complain of a lack of sex in the relationship. Only one in ten fathers said their partner wanted sex more often than they did, while four in ten mothers said so.
Open University is an online university based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. The study was funded by the Economic and Science Research Council.
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