COVID-19 – How is it impacting on couples on relationship lockdown?
It seems to be the case that COVID-19 is affecting almost everything around the world, from healthcare to finances to employment and logistics. Businesses and family units are taking a big hit, but what about relationships?
Some couples may have lived together since ‘the year dot’ but others may have only moved in together a number of weeks ago. COVID-19 will inevitably have some level of impact on all of those relationships, be that positive or negative. In fact the Covid-19 lockdown has expedited the cohabitaion of some couples, fearing separation for the period. This is a baptism of fire perhaps! It could be a good test of the realtionship.
Many cohabiting couples are used to saying goodbye to each other at 8am and not catching up again until dinner time. ‘For better or worse, but not for lunch!’ The Atlantic have published a piece on how to get your realtionship through quarantine. UK (and pretty much worldwide) lockdown means that a lot of couples are spending far more time together than usual. We have spoken to a number of individuals who are currently in this situation and they have given their best advice on how to keep relationships ‘on the up’.
- Stick to a routine. If you’re working from home, separate yourself from the rest of the house and if you can, shut the door as if you were at work. If you would usually go to a gym class on a Tuesday – still do a (virtual) class. If you would usually walk the dog together at 7pm, do it – you can make use of your daily trip out.
- Dress up. You and your partner might be used to go out for meals or socialising at the weekend, so if that is the case, make sure you get yourselves dolled up and recreate ‘date night’ but in your own homes. Otherwise, you will end up getting used to seeing each other in leggings and pyjamas.
- Look after each other. This situation will inevitably affect everyone in different ways. Try to be openminded and understanding, none of us really know how to cope with this situation because it has never happened before. Try to remember that just because you’re feeling okay, your partner might not be.
As well as the scenario above, many couples do not live together, and equally many separated couples are trying to navigate through this situation for the benefit of their children. We have also spoken to two individuals in these circumstances. Their experiences are set out below:
Emily lives apart from her boyfriend of 8 years, but is used to seeing him regularly. “We completely understand the need for isolation/ lockdown, but it doesn’t make it easy when you can’t see the other person. It has an effect on your mental health because they are what makes you happy. It is human nature to want to see, smell and touch. Thankfully, due to technology, we have a variety of communication methods – texting, phonically, FaceTime, virtual pub quizzes and even playing board games. We can still continue to enjoy each other’s company, even 20 miles from each other!”
Laura and her husband are separated, but are managing to effectively co-parent despite the current situation. “12 months ago, we chose to separate, but in the light of the very strange situation that we all find ourselves in, we are considering co-habiting again. They say some good comes out of everything but this has forced me to communicate properly with my ex and it has opened my eyes to how much separation has forced him to change and mature. Our parenting of the children has become stronger because we are being forced to think about the bigger issues. It’s sad that it’s taken this to make things better for us but sometimes rock bottom needs to be hit. I no longer see us as the tense, defensive couple that we were and I no longer see his presence as negative and stifling. If it meant better well being for both of us to live together for the next few weeks, to aid us both with our mental health, then that’s what will happen. We have been forced to be bigger people now and we have gained some perspective.”
But what if things go wrong?
In China, it has been reported that there has been a huge rise in the number of divorce applications being made since the registration offices re-opened after the coronavirus closures. It could be that this is as a direct result of the Chinese lockdown, however some lawyers are saying that the trend was expected as divorce rates tend to rise following Lunar New Year.
Several cities have been overwhelmed with applications, and simply do not have the resources to be able to process them all in the usual timeframes which is causing a delay in applications being processed. As an example, in Shanghai, petitions cannot now be filed until early May because the registration offices are already saturated with booked appointment slots.
As well as divorce cases being on the rise, China has reported a sharp rise in domestic violence cases since before the outbreak, with figures in some areas almost quadrupling since the same period last year.
The UK is a number of weeks, if not months, behind China in terms of the rise in COVID-19 cases and being on the ‘upwards curve’. That does not necessarily mean that the same trends will follow here, but inevitably some relationships will face a very tough test in these circumstances.
Regardless of whether tensions are high in your family home, or people are missing out on social gatherings or usual fitness commitments, there is a line in terms of what people will and will not tolerate. Domestic violence is not acceptable by any means – whether you are in quarantine or not. You might think ‘I understand why this has happened, because he/ she is feeling so frustrated at this situation’ but so is everyone – that doesn’t make violence okay.
If you are feeling stuck and unsure where to turn, we at Maguire Family Law are here to help.
We completely understand that it is going to be difficult for people to pick up the phone to seek confidential advice when they’re cooped up in the same house as their partner, but we can offer support in various different ways to accommodate your circumstances.
If you do wish to seek legal advice, you can contact us via our web chat on our website or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, if you are able to call us then we would be more than happy to discuss matters with you over the telephone on 01625 544650.