So, during these particularly fraught and stressful times, how can we keep our relationships happy and healthy – without wanting to kill each other mid-quarantine?
Following Coronavirus self-isolation, the number of divorce applications in China has risen significantly because ‘couples are spending too much time together at home’, according to registry offices. So much so, one city even had to impose a limit so that no more than 10 couples could get divorced in a day.
It goes without saying that many are concerned the UK will follow suit. “The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that, following self-imposed confinement, it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise,” said leading divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia in the House of Lords. “One only has to imagine what it’s going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time.”
Take ‘me time’
“I’m currently on lockdown in Germany with my husband and young child,” says leading dating and relationship coach Sami Wunder, “and it has been challenging spending so much time together. But I understand that for relationships to function well, space and freedom are just as important as spending quality time together.
I believe that although you may be physically stuck with your partner at this time, it doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. It’s important to take some ‘me time’, away from your partner to realise the things you personally enjoy. My husband has been looking after our son while I relax in the bath and enjoy my own space and freedom, while I give him space to catch up on reading. Being constantly glued to your partner can spark more arguments than you can imagine, so creating distance between you intermittently will help to relieve the tension.”
“I’m actually somewhat surprised to read that there is a belief that divorce in the UK is likely to increase,” says Kiran Beeharry, Partner in the Family Department at SA Law. “I am not certain that there is any tangible evidence that a long period of isolation will automatically lead to a spike in divorce numbers. Where there are already tensions in a relationship these could be exposed during a period of lockdown, but I prefer to take a more optimistic view about society where there will be an outbreak of kindness.”
Create a routine
“Consider agreeing a routine for the enforced time together which will give some focus and so less to argue about,” advises Linda Lamb, solicitor and director of LSL Family Law. “This can factor in joint, and individual time.”
Make time for date nights
“Romance doesn’t have to die because you’re stuck at home,” says Sami. “There are plenty of ways to connect intimately with your partner. We’ve been lighting candles and recreating date night at our favourite fancy restaurant. Dressing to the nines makes it just like the real thing. Being present in the moment by putting your phone away makes it really special.
“Talking is essential, particularly if there are issues that need addressing – don’t let them fester,” says Linda. “And remember: try not to argue in front of the children. If communication becomes heated, stop and take a minute.”
Balance tasks and fun
“Share the tasks, including childcare and household chores, taking everyone’s health into consideration, to avoid arguments,” adds Linda. “And each day, try to do something that the family enjoy, such as drawing, cooking, exercise, board games or jigsaws.”
Don’t forget to check in with each other
“With the gift of time on our hands, we can focus on strengthening our bonds, emotional connections and trust in each other,” says Sami. “In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to be there for your partner, remembering why you married them in the first place.”