With coronavirus rules across the UK restricting everything from how many people and whom we can see, even over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, to what situations are suitable for meetings with people outside our households, many couples are having to make difficult decisions about how often they can see each other – and whether meeting in person is permitted by the local tier restrictions and, even if it is, whether meeting is really worth the risk, especially if they live in a household with vulnerable people.
For couples who live in the same household, the pandemic has its own unique set of problems. Only last week, the BBC published an article discussing the fact that divorce applications and break-ups were “skyrocketing” across the UK and throughout the world, due to the effects of the pandemic. What’s more, the trend looks set to continue into next year.
What can you do to redirect your relationship onto safer ground? We take a closer look…
Make sure you are dividing your responsibilities equally
Various studies seem to suggest that women are doing a much larger portion of the housework and childcare than men. One study, conducted by Boston Consulting Group, discovered that working women are spending, on average, 15 hours a week more than their male counterparts on unpaid domestic labour. Interestingly, the BBC also cites that in one law firm, 76% of new divorce cases are coming from women, as opposed to only 60% 12 months ago.
Sit down with your other half and discuss how you will divide the household chores and the childcare. Working out a split that works for you both, will serve to reduce tension which could build up if one person feels they are doing more than their fair share. This does not necessarily mean you have to have a 50:50 split (for example, if one of you is furloughed and the other is working full time). It is more important to agree a division of duties that will work for you and your circumstances.
Communication is key
One of the couples featured in the article were filing for divorce after a 7-year marriage. Not “talking properly” was one of the reasons they cited for the breakdown of their relationship.
If either of you is struggling, for whatever reason, make time to sit down and talk about it. Letting frustrations simmer away in the background, will usually boil up into bigger problems further down the line.
Ask for help
Whether you are living together or living apart, if your relationship has hit difficult times, do not be afraid to ask for help. Whether it is discussing your concerns with a family member or a friend, attending couple’s counselling, or a consultation with a family lawyer to discuss your options, if you feel your relationship may not be able to be saved, the sooner you get the help you need, the sooner you can move forward with your lives, together or apart.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords, comments as follows: “Relationships are never easy at the best of times, especially when we end up spending more time together than normal whether as a result of the holiday period or the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions. Time together, however, can be an opportunity to rediscover the benefits of relationships through mindfulness of ourselves and of each other, and through collaboration and shared experiences. There may be times when it is helpful, for example, to ask a partner for help with something, to ask for some space of your own in the day, to suggest sharing an activity together or for them to feel able to ask the same of you. It is easy to feel that we should have the answers to everything ourselves but sharing or discussing thoughts and feelings either with a partner or with qualified individuals together can be instrumental in appreciating what we already have and in enabling us to derive the most from our relationships in the future. There are many resources available, including those accessible online, details of some of which are set out below”
‘Neil Graham is one of the brightest and most able family law solicitors currently practising. He is extremely able and provides first-rate client care. His knowledge of family law (especially financial remedy work) is breath-taking’