Couples may be facing a challenging time due to the unusual circumstances that have been thrust upon us as a result of the COVID-19. Home-working, self-isolation, home-schooling, money worries if unable to work, and health problems, are all things which alone will put pressure on any relationship, put them together and it’s a potential “hand grenade” that has been thrown into any relationship. If you are already having relationship problems it could be the final straw.
Family solicitors generally see a peak in divorce every January, following the stresses and strains of the festive period. We’re not sure yet how long the social distancing measures will be in place for Covid-19, but it could be with us for the next few months. That is a long time to be in a pressurised situation at home, so we wanted to provide some useful tips to help you get through the COVID-19 crisis.
As a Family Solicitor, wife and mother of two children (also going through this crazy unprecedented situation we find ourselves in) here are my top tips to hopefully get you through this with your marriage intact:
- Communicate with each other. Clear communication can help you avoid conflict and deal with any problems that may arise. Lack of communication is the main complaint clients have when they come into see me for advice on divorce. Let your other half know how you are feeling. Try and do this in a calm and constructive way. Snapping when angry will inevitably result in a row. Don’t make your partner feel like they are “walking on egg shells”. Another common phrase used by clients.
- Try and make time for each other. Set aside time to have a ‘date night’ at home (of course). Cook a meal, watch a movie, order a take-away (If they are still open!). Clients often say we never do anything together anymore, we have just grown apart.
- Exercise – go for a walk or run. If you want to stay at home, there are lots of YouTube videos to do various exercises in your front room. Joe Wicks – has videos for adults as well as the PE for kids. Release some of the stresses and keep fit at the same time. The endorphins should make you feel better and if you feel better you are less likely to be in a bad mood! (Again if you are in a bad mood it’s an argument waiting to happen!)
- Spend some time apart (that’s some time – not all the time!). It is unusual for couples to spend all day together. Make sure you still do your own thing at certain times during the day. For example, gardening, cooking, DIY projects, exercise, reading separately.
- If you have children and are both working from home, have a clear defined timetable, of when you will be working and when you will be doing childcare. Tag team to get through it together. This prevents the arguments as to whose job is the most important; who should be looking after the kids; and whose turn it is to do the dreaded home schooling. It also means the kids get the one to one attention they need as their world has been turned upside down too.
- If you are a key worker, try and talk about your day when you get home. Those on the front line are experiencing things you could only imagine and may need to off-load. (“They do not understand what I have to deal with.” – is another common complaint from clients).
- Try and enjoy the weekends or your days off work. If you have kids have a family fun day! Have a family bake-off; a dance-off; a treasure hunt around the garden; a drawing competition; an egg and spoon race. Try and get some fun back during this difficult time.
- Prepare a budget and evaluate your finances, especially if you have had a reduction in income. Do this together. Financial pressures can often put pressure on relationships. Come up with a plan together. If you need to curb spending talk about it.
- Another issue raised by clients is one party “spending” whilst the other party is worried about the finances.There a lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family, including WhatsApp, messenger, Zoom, Skype, and House Party. Book in slots both individually and as a couple to speak to your friends and family. Keeping up the socialisation aspect is important to alleviate the pressure of it just being the two of you.
- Divide the household chores. Changes to working patterns and more time at home may mean you need to consider if changes are needed to the way things are usually done. Again ‘not helping around the house’ is another common compliant we hear from clients.
Banner Jones Solicitors have an offices in Chesterfield, Mansfield, Dronfield, and Sheffield, and although our offices are currently closed, we’re only a phone call away. If you do feel you need to seek advice on what your options are then our Family Law team are here and can offer a fixed fee telephone appointment to get the ball rolling. Call 01246 560 560 to speak to our team.