Men and women concerned over completely opposite topics, with about 40% had conflicts over ‘intimate relationship’ or ‘home hygiene’
HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 20 January 2022 - When couples enter into a new stage of life such as marriage and becoming parents, how do these changes in identities and responsibilities affect the relationship? To understand how Hong Kong couples get along in terms of 'Intimate Relationship' and 'Home Hygiene', Reckitt Benckiser (Hong Kong) Limited (Reckitt) surveyed more than 1,000 unmarried and married couples in Hong Kong between November and December 2021 for 'Hong Kong Wellness in Action Index', the company's ongoing series of health insights launched in early 2021.
The survey unveils yawning gaps in couples who are unmarried, married or parents, over their expectations and communications on 'intimate relationship' and 'home hygiene', hinting at an urgent need to forge better communications among couples.
Polarising priorities between couples widens the communication gap
While synchrony between couples is important in maintaining a healthy relationship, the survey findings suggest that male and female respondents placed a completely opposing level of emphasis on 'intimate relationship' and 'home hygiene', with nearly 40% of them having had conflicts with their partners over these topics (39%). The polarising views could liken communications to casting pearls to swine, and eventually lead to major disputes.
The survey results indicate that nearly 80% of male respondents think that consensus with their partners on 'intimate relationship' was very important in maintaining their relationship (78%), but only 65% of female respondents feel the same. On the contrary, almost 85% of female respondents believe that getting consensus over 'home hygiene' is important (84%) while only 75% of male respondents share the same thought.
Gender dominance in conversations is putting partners 'on mute'
The fact that men and women are placing differing levels of emphasis on these topics further affects how proactive they are when communicating with each other. The survey found that discussions related to 'intimate relationship' were mostly raised by male (45%) – over six times more common than women (6%). The story is flipped when it comes to discussions on 'home hygiene', female respondents (48%) were over four times more likely to initiate such discussion than male (9%).
Meanwhile, the 'more passive gender' on certain topics showed little desire to communicate more. For example, male respondents (34%) were twice as less interested than female respondents (61%) in having more conversations with their partners on 'home hygiene' issues. However, avoiding difficult communications doesn't mean that conflicts are not occurring. On the contrary, failing to balance the 'power in discourse' between couples could result in long-term adverse impacts on the relationship.
Dissatisfaction grows as relationship length increases and parents are twice as likely to argue
As couples step into different stages of the relationship, their expectations and satisfaction levels for 'intimate relationship' and 'home hygiene' gradually changed, resulting in more frequent conflicts, especially when it comes to 'intimate relationship'. While 82% of unmarried couples rated the quality of their sexual life as "quite- to very-satisfying", only 57% of parents said the same, marking a 25% satisfaction gap. The survey also indicated that parent respondents are twice as likely to get into an argument with their partners on 'intimate relationship' than those without children.
'Home hygiene' has become the 'conflict trigger' of married couples – more than half of parents reported that they have had disputes with their partners over 'home hygiene' issues (51%) – triple that of unmarried couples (16%), and nearly 30% parents interviewed said they have blamed their partners on the lack of hygiene awareness (29%). These figures may suggest that there is a bigger expectation gap among parents, leading more readily to conflict.
Establishing positive communications and pragmatic expectations have always been the key to building a stronger and healthier relationship. Check out Reckitt's Wellness Lifehack and learn from Sexuality Educator on the tips of enhancing positive and effective communications among couples, such as initiating a 'weekly intimate conversation' with your partner to add romance to your relationship.
The challenge of maintaining hygiene awareness
The survey found that almost 80% of interviewed couples believe that the pandemic has changed the hygiene habits of themselves and their partners (79%). However, respondents showed a lack of confidence in whether they and their partners can maintain good hygiene habits - one in six respondents felt that their partners' hygiene awareness had dropped, comparing to last year when the pandemic was more severe.
Although the pandemic showed signs of abating towards the end of 2021, and hygiene awareness of some of the public may have slackened, the pandemic situation has consistently threatened the community recently. Refer to the ten tips that enable individuals to become the best hygiene partner for their loved ones.
Mr. Boudewijn Feith, Reckitt General Manager Hong Kong/Taiwan, added "Reckitt has always existed to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner and healthier world. Last year, we launched the first 'Wellness in Action Index' which offered tips for the public from different age groups to build a healthier lifestyle under the pandemic. This year, we are leveraging the insights obtained from our new survey, and our product brands such as Dettol, Durex and Vanish, to encourage intimacy and improve hygiene protection among couples under the new normal, with an aim to making every moment that couples share together a lovely and happy one."
Reckitt commissioned an independent research firm to launch the "Hong Kong Wellness in Action Index" in 2021, to initiate better in-depth discussion of various health-related topics on a regular basis and develop a better understanding on citizens' overall wellness levels. As of today, more than 2,000 Hong Kong citizens have been polled, for details, please visit www.reckittwellnessindex.hk.
 FRC (Hong Kong) Ltd, an independent research firm, was commissioned to conduct the survey between 22 November to 3 December 2021. There were 1,010 randomly selected respondents, including 303 unmarried individuals who are in a relationship and have a plan to get married, 309 respondents who are married without child and 398 individuals who are married and have children.
Reckitt* exists to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. We believe that access to the highest-quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment is a right, not a privilege.
Reckitt is the company behind some of the World's most recognisable and trusted consumer brands in Hygiene, Health and Nutrition, including Air Wick, Calgon, Cillit Bang, Clearasil, Dettol, Durex, Enfamil, Finish, Gaviscon, Harpic, Lysol, Mortein, Mucinex, Nurofen, Nutramigen, Strepsils, Vanish, Veet, Woolite and more.
Every day, more than 20 million Reckitt products are bought globally. We always put consumers and people first, seek out new opportunities, strive for excellence in all that we do and build shared success with all our partners. We aim to do the right thing, always.
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About 'Hong Kong Wellness in Action Index', please visit: www.reckittwellnessindex.hk
* Reckitt is the trading name of the Reckitt Benckiser group of companies
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