Many couples are feeling increased pressure in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Financial crisis, breaks in routine, and different responses to the crisis are just a few of the stressors affecting intimate relationships right now.
There are also relationships that were already in the midst of breakdown before the pandemic began to peak. People were in the middle of making new living arrangements, separating assets, and speaking to lawyers about child maintenance and custody.
No matter your circumstances, now is the time for patience and kindness with yourself. Standard processes such as moving house, separating assets, and negotiating custody are taking much longer than usual.
We want to help you protect yourself and your loved ones during this tumultuous time, and have compiled a list of tips and resources for emotional support through relationships struggling or breaking down during Covid-19.
NOTE: It’s being reported that domestic violence is rising under lockdown. If this is happening to you or someone you know please visit the government resource and support page immediately.
Whether your relationship is struggling or over, it’s really important right now to find a way to talk with your partner or ex about what you need. If you’re cohabiting, ask for the space you need to yourself, and respect your partner’s requests for the same. Try to compromise and trade who gets the most comfortable workspace in the house. Try to continue sharing the responsibility for the weekly food shop.
If you are already separated and living apart, continue to check in with each other, particularly if you have children. Try to find alternative ways to visit in isolation, whether FaceTime playtime or having dinner with the kids over Skype.
Money concerns are hitting everyone right now, but anxiety around money is one of the biggest factors in relationships breaking down. If your relationship has already ended, then you’re dealing with the difficulty of separating finances as well as Covid-related loss of income. It’s important to talk to your partner about your situation and try to come up with a plan for how to get through the next few months, complete with priorities and goals.
If you’re at the beginning of a separation, finding accommodation will be challenging right now, unless you have somewhere you can go. Once the lockdown ends, considering the cost of renting somewhere or buying a second house is still going to be difficult, especially if you’ve lost your job. If you decided to stay in the home for now, make sure to have a clear agreement about separate space, household bills, and respect for each other’s feelings. If a written agreement would be helpful, you can do this through a mediator or solicitor. Relate also can offer support with this.
If you’re already going through a divorce, and in the middle of negotiating finances, it might be best to take a break from proceedings until the crisis has past, since bank statements, income, and investments are unpredictable right now. You could also agree to a temporary arrangement, or decide on just certain aspects, but leave other more fluid parts of your finances till later.
Try not to point out the flaws in your partner or ex, and don’t bring up that thing that’s been bothering you for months right now. Peoples’ anxieties and emotions are heightened, and damage could be done now that’s hard to recover later. If you and your partner are struggling, try to focus on the things that you love about them, or if your frustration is escalating quickly, you can talk to a counsellor online. If you are going through a divorce, try to be accommodating now, so that conflicts that start during the crisis don’t define the rest of the proceedings. This is easier said than done, but there are digital support networks available that can help you talk through your feelings without them spilling onto the other person and causing future harm to you, your partner, or your children.
Family law has compiled a list of legal proceedings that are taking priority during the crisis, for those whose relationships have ended. Visit the page here.
Money for Life has a great article on ways to talk to your partner about financial worries, without judgment, resentment, or fighting. You can find that article here.