Lockdown and the affect on relationships
Lockdown has meant that we are spending time with our partners and children in ways which no one envisaged prior to the start of 2020. Even the strongest of relationships are feeling the pressure. Children are learning at home and need support with that learning. Partners are working from home when they previously would have gone into an office. There may not be a suitable, quiet work space for one or both of you to work from. This is new way of living is bringing pressures that we’ve not experienced in families before.
At the end of the first lockdown I saw a significant increase in the volume of work and in the last months of 2020 it was the busiest I had known it for many, many years. If a relationship had some cracks in it then sadly lockdown has caused the cracks to break the relationship for many people. The relationship ends but they are have no choice but to live in the same property with confined arrangements. The restrictions we began 2021 with felt worse than the earlier restrictions; with the short winter days and the darkness of the evenings.
Prior to lockdown there were many couples who had separated but were still living under the same roof. Although it’s incredibly difficult to live like this it is not unusual to have to share a living space with your ex partner. There are things you can do to make it a little more bearable. Firstly, if you have children and are struggling to both be able to work or find space for some time for yourself look at what time during the week one of you can take on the childcare for a while. Can you allocate an evening each week where one of you is in charge of meals/bedtimes/entertainment? This will then allow the other one some space for themselves. Find a second evening or space in the week where the arrangement is reversed and the other parent is given some time to themselves. You could consider sometimes sharing the weekend in a similar way so you each get some time with the children and some time to yourself.
This doesn’t just apply to those separated couples who have children. If you are separated you will still need some space. Agree one will have the lounge and tv or the kitchen to themselves one evening a week.
When you are living separately but under the same roof there will always be things the other person does which annoy you. During lockdown these annoyances can sometimes become magnified. It could be leaving the dirty plates on the side, finishing the milk and not getting more or not cleaning the bathroom. The smallest things can lead to big arguments.
Talking and trying to understand how the other person feels is important, even if you don’t think your actions are wrong. However, having a rational discussion can be difficult. Quite often in a first mediation we will use the time to talk through those difficulties and come up with some ground rules to try to make it a little easier to share the living space while the longer term decisions about separating are made.