Couples told to reclaim their evenings

Last updated at 08:22 28 October 2005

British couples should reclaim the evenings for themselves in order to stop merely existing and start living, a GP has claimed after conducting a study of working and cohabiting adults.

The report by Dr Roger Henderson found more than a fifth of couples are so busy with work that they can go a whole week without spending time together.

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People are now more likely to work nine until eight than nine to five and spend at least two hours in separate rooms when they do have a rare evening in, the GP discovered.

He said: "It is absolutely vital for people to recapture the early evening and create a calm hour at home with their partner before dinner.

"It could be the difference between turning an existence into a life and, for some, it could even be a relationship lifesaver."

Too busy to see partner

The study, for the At Home Society which encourages couples to reclaim back time for themselves, found 21 per cent of people are too busy to see their partner during the week.

Quality time in the early evening has largely gone out of the window now that 8.6million people or 30 per cent of the UK's workforce work beyond the classic nine to five shift.

But Dr Henderson said even those who do have an evening together do not make the most of their time, with 46 per cent of couples spending two hours each night in separate rooms.

The first "critical" hour after work is more likely to be filled with household chores, talking on the phone or looking after children than catching up with your other half, the study revealed.

Some 42 per cent of couples also prefer to watch television when they finish work but the GP said this "prevents us from enjoying each other's company".

Life is so pressured now that although 65 per cent of couples acknowledge more time in the evenings would help their relationship, only 24 per cent said they get home to see their partners twice a week.

Dr Henderson said: "We are living in a world where the pace of life gets faster and faster.

Many of us seem to have forgotten that the home is not simply a place to rush around and do tasks in. The home should also be a nest; a place to unwind and relax in."

He encourages couples to develop a post-work routine to symbolise the end of the working day and the beginning of "our time".

Other tips to recovering the evenings include changing out of work clothes when you get home, ignoring the dusting and stopping

work "polluting" your life out of office hours.

Some 1,074 working and co-habiting adults over the age of 18 were polled for the study in September this year.

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