One in 10 married couples are staying together "just for the kids" – and plan to go their separate ways as soon as the children are old enough to cope with the fall-out, a study has revealed.
Financial, emotional and physical pressures of modern life, which place a huge strain on relationships, are believed to be behind the worryingly high figure.
The detailed study carried out among 2000 couples found that while 83 percent of couples felt they "made more effort" with each other while the kids were home, only five percent said that they had now resolved their issues.
Another one in three said they had made their friends or family aware of the fact they weren't planning to stay together forever.
An astonishing 72 percent of those who said they were still living together and simply acting as a couple in front of the kids said they in truth considered themselves "separated".
"What we are most surprised at is that it would seem that many parents feel compelled to stick together with a disregard for their own happiness, or without fully considering the effect on children growing up in a household where there is animosity," a spokesperson from break-up and bereavement support website HealBee in the UK, which commissioned the study after experiencing a 40 percent rise in the number of visitors, said.
"Aside from the very real possibility of children blaming themselves for their parents' unhappiness should they choose to stay together, but then separate when they're older, these children might also follow their parents' patterns in their own relationships.
"If you grow up in an environment where everyone around you speaks with a certain accent you simply don't notice it until you are outside of that environment.
"Children are highly receptive to their role models' actions, but also perceptive to any changes such as increased tension within the household."
One third of troubled couples questioned had now discussed ending the relationship with their partner, one in four said they had decided themselves to end the relationship but had yet to inform their other half.
It also emerged six out of 10 of those who are staying together because of the children want to wait until their kids are at least 18 years of age, often preferring to wait until their child is settled at university, before planning for life apart.
"Our research has shown that of those parents who had separated, 75 percent said that they now regretted staying in their relationship for their children and that nearly 90 percent of separated parents now admitted that they would have left earlier if they received more support," added the HealBee spokesperson.