On 18 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wrote to all social housing residents in England (residents).
The Government response to the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented. For the first time, the vast majority of the population is being forced to remain indoors for an unknown period.
Whilst no doubt required, this has brought a fresh dynamic to those in relationships of all kinds; from the new cohabitees to the married couple who have lived together for 50 years plus. Central to this is that most couples are spending far more time with one another (and their children) than they ever have or will likely do in the future.
This change has the potential to add stresses and strains to even the strongest marriage. However, where relationships are already on rocky ground, the effect of lockdown can have real and potentially damaging implications.
Set out below are some suggested things to remember, which will hopefully help during this difficult period.
- Give one another some space, both physically and emotionally. If you are both home-working, set out different parts of the room and keep your clutter to your side. Likewise, don’t spend 24/7 together, give one another space.
- Separate ‘work time’ from ‘home time’.
- If there are little things that are grating, why not set aside some time to raise them in a positive way each week – it can actually be quite good fun!
- If there are children, both help out. When one parent is working, and the other is caring for children that doesn’t mean the caring parent is not working, he or she is just working differently. You are both equals! Be conscious of this and give one another some time off.
- Make a real effort to help one another out and consciously acknowledge each other’s efforts, so no one thinks they are going unappreciated. Make sure your ‘positive interactions’ outweigh the negative ones by at least 3-1.
- Concentrate on the now. There is some very big ‘stuff’ going on at present. Much of it will seem outside of your control. Concentrate on what you can control: your day’s work, caring for the kids, getting the shopping done and keeping a happy home and roof over everyone’s head is to be considered a real ‘win’ in the current climate.
- Make use of the Government’s permitted daily exercise. If you are feeling cooped up or need some space, go for a walk or a bike ride.
- Sadly, there are those relationships that are already in difficulty. Where there are issues, perhaps agree to ‘park the issues’ until lockdown ends when they can be revisited (if needs be). At such time there will be more space for all concerned and long-term decisions can be made.
- If things are getting really tough, acknowledge it and get help. Relationship counsellors, mediators and family solicitors are all still working during the lockdown and can help you with relationship problems and advise on your options.
- Should a situation arise where you begin to fear for your safety, speak out. Never feel afraid to call 999 and get help. The Government have also made it clear that if you are in fear of your safety, you can leave your property, e.g. to go to a refuge.
If you are struggling, take time to talk to someone, whether that’s a friend, family member, counsellor or professional. Bottling in emotion or stress is never a good idea and may lead to an explosion of emotion that could make matters far worse.
If you need some help dealing with relationship issues, please contact Chris Lloyd-Smith.
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