The pressures of modern life mean the seven-year-itch comes round much sooner than it used to as troubled couples split up earlier, a new study shows.
Dubbing the phenomenon the 'three year itch', the research shows that couples with young children are now most likely to go their separate ways at the three year mark.
Experts say trying to juggle careers and parenting while struggling with changing gender roles is causing more relationships to fail.
They also cite a growing trend for 'fast forward' partnerships as couples get together later in life, but spend less time getting to know each other before having children.
The study by parenting website Netmums found couples are now four and a half times more likely to split after three years than the traditional seven.
A significant 21 per cent of couples who split, saw their relationship fall apart after they had been together between two and four years. Worryingly 12 per cent split within a year.
In contrast, just three per cent of couples broke up after seven years.
Having children was shown to put the greatest strain on a relationship.
Almost half (42 per cent) of the 1,500 parents questioned said having children had driven them apart and only a third said it had brought them closer.
Four in five admit their relationship suffered as a result of exhaustion caused by the birth of a new baby or looking after young children.
Many struggle to spend quality time together with 15 per cent 'never' going out as a couple after having children and 14 per cent managing just one night out a year together.
Yet many seem to be having children earlier in relationships.
One in 20 couples confessed they fell pregnant within three months of meeting and 15 per cent were expecting a baby within a year.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard, 44, said: 'Relationships are tough at the best of times but having children puts an extra strain on them.
'Add in lack of time, exhaustion, work and money worries and maybe it's little surprise couples are splitting up earlier than ever before.
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