Having enough space or privacy in a relationship is more important for a couple to stay together happily than having a good sex life, says a relationships expert.
Dr Terri Orbuch a psychologist, research professor at the University of Michiganís Institute for Social Research and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship, found that lack of privacy or time for self was the reason for unhappy marriage among many couples, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Since 1990 Dr Orbuch has been involved in a long-term US study of marriage called The Early Years of Marriage Project, which has been following the same 373 married couples for over 25 years. 46 per cent of the couples have since divorced.
During her research, Orbuch found that 29 per cent of spouses said they did not have enough "privacy or time for self" in their relationship, with more wives than husbands reporting not having enough space (31 per cent versus 26 per cent).
Of those who reported being unhappy, 11.5 per cent said the reason was lack of privacy or time for self. This was a greater percentage than the six per cent who said they were unhappy with their sex lives.
Explaining why space so important in a relationship Orbuch said "When partners have their own set of interests, friends, and time for self, that makes them happier and less bored."
"Time alone also gives partners time to process their thoughts, pursue hobbies and relax without responsibilities to others," she added.
John Aiken, a relationship psychologist and author also agreed: "Couples need space in a relationship so they donít suffocate each other. Having time apart is extremely healthy and keeps freshness in their relationship. It encourages each person to maintain their own sense of identity while still being a couple, and it fosters independence and strength rather than neediness and clinginess."
Orbuch believes that while both sexes need space and time for themselves in a relationship, women are less likely to get it.
"This is because women often have less time to themselves than men. Even if women have jobs outside the home, they are typically more likely to be caring for children, parents, friends, and others in the family. Women are more relationship oriented and they are more likely to have more friends than men, and often are the ones planning or organising the social activities for the couple," she said.