Staying up late to watch television while your partner goes to bed is one of the key signs that a relationship needs attention, according to The Middle Class Handbook, an online guide to the changing habits of the middle classes.
Other indicators include one partner remaining awake, reading in bed with the light on, while the other is trying to sleep; using cost as an excuse to avoid a “date”; and answering “nothing” when asked “what is the matter?” because it is less tiring than having an argument.
Christine Northam, a counsellor working for Relate, agreed that such examples could be “indicators” that all was not well in a relationship.
“If you are genuinely interested in Newsnight, that’s fine, but if you just don’t want to go to bed because you don’t want to be with your partner, it’s not.
“I am dealing with troubled couples and they will report incidents where one is avoiding being with the other, either by watching television or going out and playing rugby.
“Avoiding is a tell-tale sign. If that is happening, you have to ask yourself why.”
Usually, the answer is that, at some level, one partner is angry with the other and does not want to be close to them, she said.
Richard Benson, who writes for The Middle Class Handbook, said some viewers of Newsnight used Paxman’s famously confrontational interviews as a “proxy” for the stresses and arguments they were avoiding in their own lives.
“If Paxman is a pressure valve for people to release emotion, through (watching) what he does, it means that the need to release that pressure has become greater than the enjoyment of being with your partner,” he said.
“It seems a sad state of affairs when Newsnight has become an indulgence.”
Further indications of relationship difficulties could be choosing to avoid arguments because they take too much effort, or feeling frustrated that one partner is “moaning about work again” instead of feeling concerned or angry on their behalf, according to the Handbook.
Mrs Northam said: “For any couple, the best way forward is always to be open and honest with one another. That is the way to avoid arguments. You don’t store up resentment, you have dealt with it quickly.
“In a good enough relationship you will both respect each other and want to know what they are feeling.”
1. Staying up late to watch TV alone
2. Reading with the light on while partner tries to sleep
3. Using cost as an excuse to avoid a date
4. Answering ‘nothing’ when asked ‘What’s the matter?’
5. Avoiding arguments because it’s too much effort
6. Feeling frustrated at partner’s work moaning rather than concerned
7. Avoiding being with each other