What makes relationships last?14-Aug-2018

Susan Alexander was proud to be 1 of 10 Family solicitors to participate in Baroness Shackleton’s recent Relationships Project.

Baroness Shackleton – the solicitor who acted for Prince Charles and Paul McCartney on their divorces – funded the study which investigated what makes long term relationships thrive. In addition to interviewing 10 family lawyers and mediators and two judges, it conducted research with a sample of couples married for ten years and with couples in relationships of at least 15 years.


In addition, the project worked with local schools to co-design the foundations of and the best format for an innovative relationships toolkit.

The report was co-authored by Anne Barlow, Jan Ewing, Astrid Janssens and Sharon Blake from the University of Exeter Law School.

Susan commented “I was asked to become involved because I participated in previous research projects by the University of Exeter on methods of resolving matters in divorce and separation. As part of this project I was filmed during a collaborative law case for the study on options on divorce.”

The report which proposes a relationship programme for schools to teach pupils the characteristics of healthy relationships suggested that before committing to a relationship intended to be permanent, each partner should ask themselves and each other ten critical questions:

Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
(Can we work well as a team? Do we have similar values and outlook on life?)

Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
(Do we have fun together? Share interests and humour? Appreciate each other?)

Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
(Do we each feel that we can jointly agree a plan for our lives together? Can we negotiate?)

Are our expectations realistic?
(Do we accept there will be ups and downs? Understand the need to make effort?)

Do we generally see the best in each other?
(Can we accept each other’s flaws? Respect our differences?)

Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
(Do we make time to spend together and time apart? Each show the other that we care?)

Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
(Do we deal with issues promptly and constructively? Enjoy talking and listening to each other?)

Are we both committed to working through hard times?
(Do we both ‘give and take’? Work on ourselves? Look to a positive future together?)

When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
(Can we each adapt well to change? Would we seek professional help if needed?)

Do we each have supportive others around us?
(Do we each have a good support network we can turn to or call on for help if needed?)

The Full report can be downloaded here: 

Shackleton Report Shackleton Report (3803 KB)

For more information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.