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Six tips on introducing new partners
What happens when you or your ex meet someone new and want to introduce them to your children? This is often a difficult transition but it’s likely to happen at some point, and it will require a lot of self-awareness and control. It’s natural for this next step in your co-parenting journey to feel daunting or overwhelming and for feelings of insecurity or anxiety to arise. We’ll discuss a few tips from people who have ‘been there and done that’ to help you to navigate this new chapter. Six tips for introducing new partners to your children 1. Keep your ex in the loop and communicate openly with them Where possible, discuss introducing new partners to your children with your ex before it happens. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if they introduced someone to your children without knowing? In a co-operative parenting relationship, it’s important that you both have a say and know what’s happening, even though there is little that you or they can do to prevent it. This leads us on to our next tip… 2. Understand you can’t prevent it from happening It’s natural to feel protective over your children but, unless there are danger signs, there’s not much you or your ex can do to prevent a new partner from being introduced at some point. Successful co-parenting relationships all have one thing in common – you both accept that you can’t control everything. It’s OK to request that you meet the new partner before they are introduced to your kids but if that isn’t possible, try to trust that your ex wouldn’t introduce the children to anyone unsuitable. Accepting that you have no say over each other’s new partners can be hard. 3. Establish boundaries sooner rather than later While you can’t stop new partners from being introduced to your kids, it’s important to have an open dialogue to establish boundaries. Let your ex know what you are and aren’t comfortable with and vice versa. Having these conversations prior to the situation happening will help to ease any emotional reactions in the moment. You could even build them into your parenting plan at the point of separating. Being clear and transparent with each other will help grow your co-parenting relationship and set the foundations of your blended family off on the right foot. 4. Don’t talk to your children negatively about your ex’s new partner It’s natural for negative feelings to arise when your ex introduces a new partner, but don’t share these feelings with your kids. Use other support networks like close friends and family and make sure you do it out of earshot from the children. Your children don’t need to know if you dislike the new adult in their life and belittling them in front of the kids won’t help you in the long run. Try and look at this new person as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. You are not being replaced, but rather providing your children with another adult who may become a source of love and guidance in the future. If you can work together, your children may well come to benefit from the experience. 5. Keep busy when your kids are with your ex and their new partner It may be difficult knowing your kids are with someone else, and you may feel lonely or jealous when they are away from you. You can mitigate these feelings by keeping busy or using this time for some self-care. Do something or see people that you wouldn’t normally have time to do or see.  6. Use communication tools for co-parenting There are many helpful co-parenting tools at your disposal, like the amicable co-parenting app. The app helps you to define and communicate your boundaries, schedule shared events to avoid confusion and conflict, and message your ex securely through the messaging function. All the tools were created to help avoid tension and miscommunication that may arise during very common co-parenting milestones like introducing new partners. We hope the above tips help you navigate co-parenting when new partners are introduced. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | new partner, parenting apart, co-parenting
Eight tips to communicate with your ex
When you separate from your ex and have children together, your relationship isn’t over, it’s changed. You may not be romantically tied to each other anymore but you will remain in each other’s lives – learning how to get on and transition from parents to co-parents is a big shift for many couples. Getting it right isn’t easy, but it is worth it and will save you all a lot of hassle and headaches. Here are some tips on how to set things off on the right foot. 1. Create a parenting plan Creating a parenting plan is a game-changer. A parenting plan can help you to record the decisions you’ve made about how and where the children will live, and what your parenting boundaries are. It’s also a great way to pre-empt any issues that may arise in the future. A parenting plan isn’t a legal document and it isn’t set in stone as your children’s ages and stages will change over time. But it is a helpful, structured way of establishing a co-operative parenting relationship. You may be able to work through the process together by using a parenting plan template or you may need to seek support from a co-parenting coach who can help you work through the trickier sections such as shared care arrangements and who pays for what. 2. Accept that It’s OK to have different parenting styles Don’t be put off if you and your ex have different parenting styles. This is not the end of the world and doesn’t need to come in the way of co-operative parenting. You just need to be able to work around it and stick to a plan which enables you to practice both your parenting styles. 3. Don’t sweat the small stuff Give each other time to adjust to your new roles and prepare for when things don’t go to plan. It’s OK to get things wrong, and if you cut your ex some slack, they will likely do the same for you. This is new for both of you and will take time some to get used to but you can be sure of one thing – it’s not going to always go to plan, and that’s OK. If you’re flexible and understanding with your child’s other parent, it’s likely that they will reciprocate. If you’re not willing to be flexible, this may cause tension and result in arguments and won’t benefit any of you. 4. Support your child’s relationship with their other parent It’s important to support your child’s relationship with their other parent. This includes encouraging them to communicate when they are with you. This could be in many forms such as calls, texts, or emails etc. Supporting your ex and cultivating an environment of openness where your children feel they can communicate with both of you will ease the change for them. 5. Keep your child’s other parent in the loop It’s important to keep the other parent in the loop where possible. This doesn’t need to be constant communication; you can just touch base when appropriate. Plan ahead so they aren’t blindsided by things that could have been avoided if you had communicated them earlier. Tools such as the amicable co-parenting app can help with this. 6. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your kids You and your ex might not be each other’s biggest fan but it’s important to avoid vocalising any negative feelings in front of your children. This can make your children feel like they have to pick sides and may affect their relationship with the other parent. If you do slip up, address it by saying something like “I’m sorry I spoke about your mum/dad like that, I was just cross and I shouldn’t have said that in front of you.” 7. Look for the positives If you always assume the worst about your ex and the things they do, it will likely lead to negative communication. Instead, try and gather all the facts before accusing them of anything and look at the positives in situations. If you lead by example, you will find that your children are better off because of it. 8. Communicate as if your ex is a business contact Keep communication short and sweet, especially over messages. Keep to the point and remove any ‘emotional messaging’. If you’re angry, wait until you have calmed down, read your message again and ask yourself if you’d be happy to send it to a business colleague before pressing send. The amicable co-parenting app The amicable co-parenting app enables you to communicate with your child’s other parent in one secure place. The shared calendar helps you to stay organised and includes shared care schedules, one-off and recurring events for each child. The goals section helps you to define and communicate your boundaries and the messaging function stores all your co-parenting communication in one secure place. Try the app for free for 30 days to see if it can help improve your co-parenting relationship. After the free trial, the app is £9.99 a month or £99.99 for the year. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | parenting apart, co-parenting, communication
How to get over a breakup
Almost everyone at some point in their life will suffer from a relationship breakdown or breakup. This can happen for many different reasons, such as incompatibility, loss of love, or lack of trust. No two breakups are ever the same. Whether it was you or your partner who initiated the breakup, you may experience a range of feelings in the days, weeks and months following the breakup – sadness, anger, loss, betrayal, and sometimes even relief. No matter the length of the relationship, even if it was only just a few weeks, the breakup can still hurt and cause pain. There are many things which can affect how well you cope after a breakup and how well you heal and move on with your life. Factors which can hinder your ability to cope with the breakup might include: Experience. If your experience of the breakup and the events surrounding it was traumatic, the healing process may take a little longer. Avoidance. If you don’t allow yourself to process or think about what happened, the healing process may take longer. Distraction. The use of unhelpful coping mechanisms like abuse of substances and alcohol aren’t a helpful or permanent fix as they also don’t allow you to fully process what happened. The only way to really ‘cure’ the feelings and experiences following a breakup is to work through it and process what happened. Uncertainty. You might be keen to find answers on why the relationship broke down, and with good reason. People who understand the reasons surrounding a breakup tend to adjust faster than those who don’t [1]. However, if you're planning to get in contact with your ex-partner, make sure you have thought it through and approach the situation in an amicable manner, to prevent any more distress. Self-blame. This can often follow a lack of clarity around why the relationship broke down. Shared things. You might have shared friends, shared belongings, or even children and pets and the discussion of who keeps what can make things more difficult. Again, things need to be kept amicable to prevent more pain not only for yourself but anyone else involved. But there are measures which can be taken to help your levels of coping and healing following a breakup and help you to feel more like yourself again: Allow yourself the time to understand and process the relationship breakdown and your emotions which follow. Give yourself to grieve from the loss of your relationship. Meet up with friends and family. Getting support is a great way to aid your healing and process the breakup. Those who receive social or professional support following a breakup tend to cope better [1]. Try to get back into hobbies or things you may not have done as much since getting into the relationship. Self-time and care can help you feel more like yourself. Treat yourself. Do something enjoyable, just for you. Take the time to exercise, even if only a little, like a walk outdoors. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial to improving wellbeing and mood [2]. It can also clear your mind and help you reset. Healing after a breakup will take time and can’t be done overnight. There's no set length of time it should take to heal after a breakup and as long your way of coping is healthy you will get through it. However, if you still feel as though you’re struggling to cope, don't be afraid to reach out to a professional. They will be able to guide you through the healing process and aid you in coping and understanding any feelings you still have. By Tamara Almond-Lockett References [1] Barutçu. K, Adjustment to breakup of romantic relationships: initiator status, certainty about the reasons of breakup, current relationship status and perceived social support, 2009. [2] Klaperski, S., Koch, E., Hewel, D., Schempp, A., & Müller, J. (2019). Optimizing mental health benefits of exercise: The influence of the exercise environment on acute stress levels and wellbeing. Mental Health and Prevention, 15, 7. doi:http://dx.doi.org.hallam.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.mhp.2019.200173
Article | breakups
New relationship worries
Romantic relationships can generate powerful emotions. They are often filled with passion and intimacy and can bond people forever. But before getting into a relationship, you will probably have to face the dating experience. You might feel confused, anxious, or terrified, with no idea of how to behave. Or you might feel the opposite: confident, steady, and relaxed. When you’re new to dating, you might experience a whole rush of new feelings [1]. Successful dates can create a real bond between the people involved, especially if you go on to form a couple. But you might be wondering when the dating stops, and the relationship begins. Usually, it is a natural transition as you notice that you’re becoming closer to your partner and getting to know them. Often the beginning of a relationship can feel wonderful and perfect, mainly because you’re both feeling enthusiastic and uplifted by the new feelings you’re experiencing. Too good to be true But, while everything can seem amazing at the beginning of a relationship, there might be worries lurking underneath. You might think it’s too good to be true, or that this wonderful new relationship will suddenly end, and that can leave you feeling very insecure. The desire to make a good impression can lead you to change your behaviour around your new partner, or to hide your flaws. In the early stages of a relationship, you can be so consumed by the novelty that you forget about your responsibilities, or the other people in your life. If you’ve noticed yourself getting lost in a new relationship, these tips might help: Be true to yourself. It’s normal for couples to take on some personality traits from each other, but it’s important not to change your behaviour in a way that isn’t true to you. Pretending to be someone else can be exhausting and isn’t fair on your partner either. Talk about your flaws. Remember that everyone has flaws. You might want to work on the ones that can be fixed but try not to get stuck in the ones that can’t. Instead of hiding, share your concerns with your partner. You might be surprised to find that your partner hasn’t noticed them, or even that they appreciate them. Balance your time. Love can be overwhelming but don’t let it take over your whole life. Make time for the other people in your life, and don’t neglect the other things that are important to you. This will help you maintain a sense of self and may even make you feel more secure in your relationship. Don’t overthink it. Take a deep breath, relax, and try to enjoy the moment. Communication One issue in all relationships is communication. Even people with lots of relationship experience face communication issues, which can negatively impact both partners. In a new relationship, when everything is raw, communication problems can lead to harsh arguments or even breakups. If you feel like you and your partner aren’t communicating enough, have an open and honest conversation. Talk about any issues or misunderstandings and try to sort them out, rather than hiding from each other. Honesty There are many reasons people hide the truth in relationships. You might be trying to protect each other, or you might be worried about how each other will react. Whatever the reason, being honest is usually the best way forward. The truth will come out eventually anyway. It can take time, effort, and courage to make the best of a relationship but when you’re willing to put that in, it can be a wonderful experience filled with exciting feelings. By Adrian Minea References [1] Meier, A., & Allen, G. (2009). Romantic Relationships from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Sociological Quarterly, 50(2), 308–335. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2009.01142.x
Article | dating, relationships
Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy
You may have heard mixed messages about whether it’s OK to drink some alcohol while pregnant. We know that alcohol can harm an unborn baby, and we know that heavy drinking or binge drinking can be especially risky [1]. But we don’t know a safe level of alcohol consumption [2]. So if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, the safest approach is to not drink at all.  Whatever stage you’re at, your baby will benefit from you starting to avoid alcohol now.  What’s the harm?  When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol ends up in the unborn baby’s blood. The developing liver can’t filter out toxins that can harm brain cells and damage the nervous system [3], and can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This is true throughout the pregnancy, so there is no safe time to drink alcohol during that nine months. On the other hand, quitting at any point can be helpful.  Some people may need to reduce their alcohol intake gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. A good first step is to talk to your doctor or midwife who can direct you to further support after learning about your specific needs. You can also search for local services through the NHS. Managing stress without alcohol Having a baby is one of the biggest changes you and your partner can go through, so you might find yourself feeling more stressed and arguing more. Avoiding alcohol can be difficult if you’re used to using it as a way of coping with stress. But the negative effects on your mood and general health, and the worry about how it might affect your baby, could end up causing even more stress.  We can’t make stress go away entirely, but we can learn to cope in healthier ways. You could try: Exercise, like going for a walk, yoga, or another favourite activity. Cooking a nutritious meal. Chatting with a friend or family member. Having a supportive partner can be a big help too. It will likely be easier for you to avoid alcohol if your partner chooses to stop drinking as well [4] [5]. You could share the goal of avoiding alcohol together during your pregnancy, and encourage each other along the way.  Three simple steps  Practicing communication skills can strengthen your relationship and get you through times of stress, from everyday issues to bringing a new baby into the family. There are three simple steps to arguing better: STOP. This means staying calm and listening. You can’t always control the way you feel, especially when an argument starts. But you can have some control over how you respond. When you feel a conversation heating up, you can try some of these tips to help yourself say calm: Take some deep breaths. Relax your shoulders. Count to 10. Go for a walk with your partner. TALK IT OUT. To talk through what’s going on, we can: See it differently. Try to see things from your partner’s point of view. Speak for myself. Use ‘I’ statements to talk about how you are feeling. WORK IT OUT. Once you are able to stay calm and talk about your issues, you will be able to look for solutions you can both agree on. For more information  If you would like support to quit alcohol, your doctor or midwife can help and you can search for local services through the NHS. If you’d like to know more the effects of alcohol on unborn babies, see the National Organisation for FASD.   References [1] Jones, Theodore B.; Bailey, Beth A.; Sokol, Robert J. Alcohol Use in Pregnancy: Insights in Screening and Intervention for the Clinician. Clinical Obstetrics and Gyneconolgy, 2013.  [2] May, Philip A.; Gossage, J. Phillip. Maternal Risk Factors for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Alcohol Research and Health, 2011.  [3] National Organisation for FASD. Information for parents, carers and professionals, 2012. [4] Montag, Annika C. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: identifying at-risk mothers.International Journal of Women’s Health, 2016. [5] Chang, Grace; Mcnamara, Tay K.; Orav, E. John; Wilkins-Haug, Louise. Alcohol Use by Pregnant Women: Partners, Knowledge, and Other Predictors. Journal Of Studies On Alcohol, 2006.
Article | pregnancy, alcohol
Parenting in a post-lockdown world
Even as lockdown restrictions are easing, parents may be feeling additional stress related to the pandemic. Our lives – and our world -- are not the same as they were a few months ago. Schools will reopen soon, but the experience will be different with physical distancing and other ways to reduce risks. Some families are dealing with health and money issues. And many of us have worries about the future. You want to support your children through this uncertain time, and that’s not always easy when you’re dealing with your own worries. But we can work together to create more resilience within our families and our communities. Coping together as parents Handling stress is the key to a high quality of relationship with your partner, and a happier family life [1]. Parents who focus on supporting each other as a couple are more likely to be able to deal with the stresses of parenting [2]. If you can listen to each other, share the burden, and present a united front, you’ll find it gets easier to come to agreements about parenting [3]. Your children will cope better too – they’ll be less likely to feel sad or anxious, or to act out through stress [4]. Especially during difficult times, it can help to make more of an effort to: Show affection and support: A major study discovered that simple actions such as saying ‘thank you’, touching base during the day with a text message, or bringing your partner a cup of tea could be the foundations of a long and successful relationship [5]. Make time for each other. Try to commit to at least an hour of couple time each week. That’s time without children, friends, or family members, when you can focus solely on each other. Express and share your feelings. When you talk to your partner about a stressful situation, try to describe your feelings as well. Tell your partner why you are upset, and what you hope will change. Offer emotional support. Rather than trying to solve every problem, emotional support helps your partner feel listened to and shows them that you are making the effort to understand what they are going through. Talking to your children Your children might have questions as lockdown restrictions are eased and you sort out what the ‘new normal’ will look like. Generally, if your child is ready to ask a question, they are ready to hear the answer. You don’t have to tell them everything – keep their age in mind, and only tell them as much as is necessary to answer their question. They can always ask a follow-up question if they want to know more. If you don’t know something, say so. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future now, and even the experts don’t have all the answers. Children are reassured by the information they get from their parents, and it’s helpful for them to know they can rely on you [6] [7]. When they feel informed about what’s going on, they can get on with being kids again. Dealing with conflict Conflict is unavoidable. In every relationship, there are always going to be things to sort out that you can’t agree on straightaway. And now we have the added stress of major global events. How you choose to deal with conflict can make all the difference to your relationship and to your children [8]. Children who are exposed to negative conflict can sometimes act out or become anxious and withdrawn [9]. Some tips on keeping your conflict constructive: Stay calm. When you’re calm, it’s much easier to see your partner’s point of view, which is essential to building a constructive conversation. Look for solutions. Trying to win won’t get you anywhere, so look for solutions that take everybody’s needs into account and choose a course of action together. Be accommodating. If your partner is being negative, you don’t have to respond in kind. Sometimes, it only takes one of you to start making the conversation more constructive. Be positive. Positive behaviour like finding a quiet space to work things out can sometimes help you get through a disagreement. Finding support This website has a wealth of resources on navigating relationship difficulties, including community support. You might turn to a trusted family member or friend. This often gives you a chance to explore issues safely, and see them from a different perspective. However, it can sometimes be more useful to speak with a professional relationship counsellor, as friends and family aren’t always equipped to deal with the issues at hand. A counsellor can help by offering emotional support, and encouraging you and your partner to see things from each other’s point of view. This can allow you both to see how you might be contributing to the issue and what you can do to help move things forward. References [1] Ashley K. Randall & Guy Bodenmann, 2008. The role of stress on close relationships and marital satisfaction.[2] Brown, 2012[3] Zemp, Milek, Cummings, & Bodenmann, 2017[4] Zemp, Bodenmann, Backes, Sutter-Stickel, & Revenson, 2016.[5] Enduring Love research project[6] Kennedy, V. L., & Lloyd‐Williams, M., 2009[7] Osborn, T., 2007[8] Goodman, S. H., Barfoot, B., Frye, A. A., & Belli, A. M. (1999). Dimensions of marital conflict and children's social problem-solving skills. Journal of Family Psychology, 13(1), 33.[9] Grych, J. H., & Fincham, F. D. (1990). Marital conflict and children's adjustment: a cognitive-contextual framework. Psychological bulletin, 108(2), 267.
Article | parenting, lockdown
Facing money issues as a couple
As we move in and out of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, many of us are facing an uncertain financial future. Some people have been furloughed or lost their jobs. Some businesses have closed or lost much of their revenue. Months after the lockdown was first announced, redundancy is now the top search term on the Citizens Advice website, and their benefits advice page views are at their highest ever levels. Even in ordinary times, money troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress in relationships. More than half of couples include money worries in their top three relationship strains [1]. 60% of people who contact debt charities say they also have problems with their relationships, but they don’t necessarily seek relationship support [2].  On top of that, we’re feeling the effects of a global event that affects us in ways we can’t avoid and that aren’t our fault, which can feel unfair and unsettling [3]. When you’re struggling with money, you and your partner might have less time together and argue more. Arguments about money can be different to other types of arguments – they can last longer, are more likely to get out of hand, and can have a bigger impact on your relationship [4]. But there are practical steps you can take if you’re worried about money, from getting advice on what to do if coronavirus has affected you financially, to managing the stress together with your partner. Get some help Charities like Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service, and the National Debtline can help you figure out what benefits you can get — including coronavirus-specific relief — what to do if you can’t pay your bills or rent, and dealing with debt.  Consider seeking emotional support as well. Research has shown that relationship counselling can help people cope better with financial problems [6]. Organisations like Relate can help with telephone or webcam counselling and live chat services. Talk about money Couples who talk openly about money tend to cope better in tough times. In one study, couples who consciously worked together at finding solutions were better at maintaining their relationship through difficult financial periods. These couples made the decision to see their money problems as separate from the relationship, focusing on the importance of communicating well and working together [5]. Aside from overspending, one of the biggest money problems relationships face is appointing one partner to manage all the household finances while the other takes a back seat [6]. While this might seem simpler, it can often increase stress in relationships, creating an extra burden for the person in control [7], and leaving the other person in the dark. The couples who have the most success at dealing with their issues are those who recognise the need for trust and communication around financial matters. When you can trust each other to pay bills on time, discuss big purchases, and avoid overspending, you’re likely to feel more confident in your finances and in your relationship [5]. Make a budget Get together and write down your income and your expenses, starting with unavoidable things like housing and energy bills. If you’re not sure how to get started with a budget, you can find a free planner and some online guides through the Money Advice Service. Go through your expenses and work out where you can make cuts and savings. Can you change your energy suppliers or switch to a cheaper phone plan? Can you cut your food bills by going to a cheaper supermarket or buying things in bulk? What can you live without while money is tighter than usual? Remember that these changes might only be temporary – it can be easier to adjust when you know what you’re working towards. Take time for each other  You may have to cut back your spending, but this doesn’t mean you should stop making time for each other. During periods of lockdown, you might not have much choice about what you do, but some of these suggestions from couples might be useful as you think about the future: Look for cheaper alternatives to your preferred activities. For example, a football fan might pay for a subscription radio service as a cheaper alternative to the TV package. You can still have special meals while spending less than usual. If you're ordering in, cut the starters and sundries. Set the table and put some music on. Light a candle. Make an evening of it without spending more than you can afford. When the weather is nice, take walks in the park. Explore the open spaces in your area. Go off the beaten track a little – you might be surprised at what's available locally if you let yourself wander. Learn how to support each other well by reading our tips on coping with stress together.  Don’t delay If you’re worried about money, watch this story to see why you should act as soon as possible to deal with the issues and talk to your partner. References [1] Undy, H.,  Bloomfield, B.,  Jopling, K., Marcus, L.,  Saddington, P., &  Sholl, P. (2015). The way we are now: The state of the UK’s relationships 2015. Relate, Relationships Scotland, Marriage Care.[2] Findings from OnePlusOne interviews with major UK debt charities, further supported by Olson, G. Olson, D. National Survey of Marital Strengths, April 2003.(66% of problems in marriage are associated with ‘major debt’)[3] Dew, J.P., & Xiao, J.J. (2013) Financial Declines, Financial Behaviors, and Relationship Satisfaction during the Recession. Journal of Financial Therapy, 4(1).[4] Papp, L. M., Cummings, E. M., & Goeke ‐ Morey, M. C. (2009) For richer, for poorer: Money as a topic of marital conflict in the home. Family Relations, 58(1), 91-103[5] Skogrand, L., Johnson, A.C., Horrocks, A.M., DeFrain, J. (2011). Financial Management Practices of Couples with Great Marriages. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32: 27.[6] Doherty, H. F. (2006). Communication is vital to a couple's successful financial life. Dental Economics, 96(11), 92-93.[7] Rowlingston, K. & Joseph, R. (2009). Assets and Debts Within Couples: Ownership and Decision-Making. Friends Provident Foundation.
Article | finance, money, lockdown
Lockdown: coping with grief
When someone dies, our usual ways of coping and moving on are built around getting together with loved ones. During social distancing, we may have to adjust to new ways of dealing with grief. Funeral attendance might be limited to small numbers of close family, and distance might make it impossible to travel at all. For many people, this means not getting a chance to say goodbye. For those who can attend, it might be upsetting to see a small turnout, knowing their loved one isn’t getting the send-off they deserved. Grieving from a distance Even when you’re not able to get together physically, you can still mark the loss. If possible, attend a live stream of the funeral. Many funerals are now being filmed and streamed so mourners can watch them safely from home. Plan a memorial service. We don’t know when or how things will change but, at some point, we should be able to meet up again. Planning a service or celebration in the future can help you move forward in the present. Write down some memories of the person who has died. This can help you acknowledge the loss and reflect on what the person meant to you. Pick up the phone or arrange a video chat. You and your loved ones can share memories and offer each other support. Look for the positives. After some time has passed, you may find it easier to step back and see if anything positive has come out of the situation. Perhaps you’re connecting with friends and family in a different way or seeing how people can come together under difficult circumstances [1]. How am I supposed to feel? Right now, it can be hard to know what’s normal. There’s no set path that you’re supposed to follow after a death, but it can be comforting to know the types of things people often go through. Rather than being sad all the time, people often go back and forth between grieving and getting on with things. You might find yourself switching between moments when you feel very sad, and moments when you feel relatively normal [2]. Often, we push away difficult thoughts and feelings. We might try to convince ourselves everything is OK, even when it’s not. Sometimes, we use drugs or alcohol to try and change the way we feel. Whatever we do to push our feelings away, they will always find a way back in. It won’t always be easy, but it’s best just to let your feelings come and go – that’s how you process them and move forward [1]. Supporting each other as a couple If you’re in a relationship, you and your partner can support each other by sharing the grieving process. At the very least, talking to each other about how you’re feeling can make it easier for both of you to cope [3]. Under normal circumstances, this might mean going to the funeral together or visiting a memorial site but, when that's not possible, you can still find rituals to share from home – like lighting a candle or listening to a special piece of music. These shared experiences can help you adjust to the loss [4]. Even if you don’t live together, you could still meet up online and do something together. One thing to bear in mind, if you’re in a mixed sex couple, is that men and women often have different ways of coping. Women tend to want to surround themselves with other people and talk through memories with friends and family. Men tend to find this type of social support less useful, and may prefer to work through things alone, at least at first [4]. Of course, this won’t be true for everyone. However you and your partner deal with loss, try to be patient with each other and understand that we all have our own ways of dealing with things. Supporting someone else through grief If someone you know is dealing with grief, give them a call. You could text them to arrange a convenient time, or you could just pick up the phone and see if they answer. If it’s not a convenient time, they will let you know. If you want to do something practical, you could arrange to have something sent over. Lots of places are now well-versed in delivering food, drink, flowers, books, and other things. Think about what might help cheer the person up and send them a pleasant surprise. This will let them know you are thinking about them. References [1] Mikulincer & Florian, 1996[2] Stroebe & Schut, 1999[3] Albuquerque, Narciso, & Pereira, 2018[4] Bergstraesser, Inglin, Hornung, & Landolt, 2014
Article | lockdown, grief
Parenting in lockdown
As we face the prospect of more time in lockdown, many of us find ourselves making more adjustments and looking for new ways to cope. As a parent, you know that your children are still relying on you for support. You want to give them everything they need, but it isn’t always easy – especially when you’re dealing with your own worries. Coping together as parents Generally speaking, parents who focus on supporting each other as a couple, are more likely to be able to deal with the stresses of parenting [1]. If you can listen to each other, share the burden, and present a united front, you’ll find it gets easier to come to agreements about parenting [2]. Your children will cope better too – they’ll be less likely to feel sad or anxious, or to act out through stress [3]. Talking to children about the situation With guidelines frequently changing and the future still unclear, it can be hard to know what to tell your children about everything that’s going on. After many months of upheaval, they may even have their own ideas. With so much uncertainty and so many new developments, you might want to protect them from knowing too much. It’s natural to want to protect your children but shielding them from difficult news can actually be worse for them than just answering their questions. It’s usually best just to tell the truth. How to answer children’s questions Generally, if your child is ready to ask a question, they are ready to hear the answer. You don’t have to tell them everything – keep their age in mind, and only tell them as much as is necessary to answer their question. They can always ask a follow-up question if they want to know more. If you don’t know something, say so. There’s still a lot we’re not sure about and it’s better to be honest. If there’s something you’re not comfortable answering, you could try asking your child why they’ve asked that particular question. You could also ask them what they already know, as this can help you understand where they’re coming from. Children are reassured by the information they get from their parents, and it’s helpful for them to know they can rely on you [4] [5]. When they feel informed about what’s going on, they can get on with being kids again. Get them drawing Some younger children might find it hard to talk about their worries. Very young children often don’t have the words to describe what they’re feeling. One thing you can do to help them express themselves is to get them drawing. Grab some pens or pencils and invite them to draw something that shows how they’re feeling. Children can often find it easier to express themselves in this way [6]. A bit of fun It can be hard to find time to relax, especially if you’re trying to fit home schooling around working from home. But, if you can, try to build in some time for fun activities with the children – even it’s just playing or reading together. When you look back on all this, you might find that your role has just been to help your children stay calm and healthy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to do anything more than that. Take it a day at a time and keep looking after each other – that’s all anyone can really ask of you. References [1] Brown, 2012[2] Zemp, Milek, Cummings, & Bodenmann, 2017[3] Zemp, Bodenmann, Backes, Sutter-Stickel, & Revenson, 2016.[4] Kennedy, V. L., & Lloyd‐Williams, M., 2009[5] Osborn, T., 2007[6] Eiser & Twamley, 1999
Article | parenting together, social distancing
Community posts
My partner doesn’t feel right
My boyfriend and I (both 19 yrs old) have been together for 3 years. At the start of last year, we went through a few bumps in our relationship when another girl came around claiming to not want a sexual relationship in any way with my boyfriend, but then flirted with him and they ended up having a sexual relationship for a week or so. We ended up getting back together when he called it off with her, but ever since then he hasn’t been very intimate with me, e.g. doesn’t really like kissing, calling me pretty or whatever, but the big one is he doesn’t like to have sex very often. We went from having sex nearly every night, to about 3-4 times a month. I questioned him about it and his response was “it doesn’t feel right to be intimate” I asked him to explain a bit more and he said he feels fine hugging me and telling me he loves me, but he said “it doesn’t feel right to have sex” and he “doesn’t see me in that way”. I asked him if it would be better off if we broke up, but he told me he doesn’t want to because he loves me and he still wants me to be his girlfriend. He also said he doesn’t know if it’s just a ‘him’ thing, but he knows he doesn’t want to break up with me. When we do have sex and when he initiates it he feels like it’s right, but when I try initiate sex he feels like it isn’t right. He also said he finds it hard to call me pretty or to kiss me. I literally don’t know what to do because he tells me he loves me and doesn’t want to break up, but he just feels like it isn’t right to be intimate with me because he doesn’t see me in that way. Can someone please try help???
User article | sex, intimacy
Husband has no desire for sex
My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years. We got married at a very young age (20 & 22) in the beginning of our relationship, he used to get frustrated at my lack of sexual activity. As the years have gone on, I built up my desire to want to have sex a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, we would have sex a couple times a week. But now I would like it to be 4x a week. However, the roles have reversed. He only seems to want (lack of better term) head. He never wants to kiss, foreplay or do anything “intimate” he just wants head. We talk about everything and have a solid relationship. However when I bring up these concerns, and express that I would like to have sex more or even have intimate moments more, he tells me “I’m not that guy” I don’t mind giving head but I would like to have sex also. You know, give and take? But he only wants to take. I don’t want sound ridiculous but it would be nice to feel like a teenage couple again and having those passionate kisses or make out sessions. But he has zero interest of kissing me. Even when he gets home from work or before bed, etc. it’s gotten to the point where if I’m kissing him he actually pushes me away or will turn his head. How can I not feel rejected or unwanted? I feel like we are too young to have our sex drive decrease. He tells me sex feels amazing but he does t want to “do the work” and he doesn’t seem impressed when I do the work, unless it’s with my mouth!! Lol. I’m losing interest in being around him, he thinks “I watch too much rom-coms”. Which may be true, but what’s wrong with a little more passion in the bedroom? I don’t need flower pedals but at least hold my hand while I’m going down on you!! It’s getting me to the point that I’m anonymously writing to a bunch of strangers. Am I living in fantasy land or is he losing interest?
User article | sex
I love my gf but also love another girl
Hello, I am very confused and don't know what to do so i thought im gonna ask the internet, maybe that will make me realise what to do. I've split it up in different sections so it is easier to read, i hope. I'm dyslectic so this isnt easy for my to write. So please don't mind my spelling and sentence construction. Me: I’m currently 22 years old and have a girlfriend that i have been with for 3 years now. This is the only serious relationship i’ve ever had (i had 1 relationship before her when i was 16 but that really ment nothing) She is the only one I have ever had sex with (i’ve fooled around with 2 other girls before her (Kissed and foreplay)) but except for that she is the only one i have ever really had sex with. She on the other hand has had multiple boyfriends before (but i am her longest lasting relationship) obviously she also had sex and other experiences before with her previous boyfriends. I’m absolutely not jealous, not even a little bit. I trust my girlfriend 300%. I was always pretty shy especially when it comes to girls. Ever since i met my girlfriend i’ve really grown and I’m absolutely not shy anymore. That is mainly because of the relationship i think. It made me love myself more and made me more proud and certain of who i am. I’m a very passionate, romantic and caring man. If i want to learn something new i go for it 100% and get totally obsessed with it, because i want to be the best at it. I like buying presents for people and do that a lott and sometimes even exaggerate it with my girlfriend. My girlfriend: She on the other hand is pretty jealous and isn’t always the easiest person to live with. This is not just me saying this, also her parents, friends and even herself know this. She sometimes can get really pissed off and then says she wants to break up because of something i did when in reality i really did not do something terrible and wrong. But i know that she just says this and doesn’t mean it but sometimes it still hurts when she says those sort of things because i really really love her and she truly means a lot to me. So she sometimes gets mad about the stupidest things and then blames me for it. I know how to handle those sort of situations because i know her better then herself sometimes. But still i sometimes think that i can’t keep doing this my whole life. For me it feels like im the one that always fights for the relationship and she just always immediately gives up when things gets rough. this makes me question our relationship sometimes because i want a real good and sturdy relationship in my future and that is required with the study and carrier that im going to have in the future. Before my girlfriend: I was 18 years old and just started university. I had great fun with my friends and i lived in a student house where i met this girl (lets call her lucy). She also lived in this student house and we got really close. We got together almost every night to watch something (a tv show or something) in her dorm, on her bed, just the 2 of us. Like literally almost every night, when i wasnt out partying with my friends, i was with her. She had a boyfriend but halfway through the year she broke up with him (i still think that it was because she had developed feelings for me). Im sure if i tried to make a move, i would have succeeded and we would’ve become a couple. But sadly i didn’t because i was to shy and not confident in myself enough. But i really really liked her, I dremt about her, i pictured myself with her. She also was really pretty. I met my grilfriend: The first year at university was almost over and in the last month I met a girl (my current gf). She was good friends with my sister and that’s how we met. I knew she liked me because she told my sister and her friendgroup started teasing us. but i was to shy to do anything again. But was flirting with her. But mostly she took the steps and initiative and i just went with it. But is was mostly her moves on me because i had no moves. I also told lucy this and even though she acted excited for me i now know that she was pretty sad about me meeting someone. The beginning of my relationship with my gf was hard. I was still a virgin so that was exciting and thrilling. but after that phase passed things got hard. She was really jealous and sometimes really toxic. I now realise that our relationship then was really toxic. She always got mad and i always took the blame and felt really bad for it because i thought i did something wrong but now i realise that that wasn’t the case i was just being used as a victim. My relationship now: But now 3 years later our relationship is pretty healthy. I would not say great because she still is a difficult person but i know how to handle her. And I don’t let her control me like she did in the beginning. We have a pretty stable relationship and we are both very happy iwth eachother and have a lot of fun and laughter. Yes of course sometimes we argue and have rough days but nothing big or serious. I love her very much and she loves me too. there is only one thing that bothers me: Sex. I think in those 3 years we had real sex less than 20 times. I have a pretty high libido so sometimes its really hard for me. But we do do foreplay and so on but not that often. She is also struggling with vaginismus i think, it was never diagnosed (i have knoledge of these things, so i think im right when saying she has vaginismus). We talk about it sometimes and I always say that she needs to go to a gynecologist and she agrees but keeps delaying it because she is scared. In the beginning i was supportive for her because it wasn’t her fault (she just had too much pain that i couldn’t even penetrate a full finger). I was very supportive and caring but she keeps delaying going to the doctor and therefore i almost stopped trying to have sex or any form of foreplay because it only leads to dissapointment. I really like it when we do these things annd i tell her that but i also want the real thing (real sex) because i never had anyone before her so i want to experience those things too. We haven’t had sex in over 1,5 years now i think. And i still love her to bits, Like really really love her. The story of lucy: After my first university year I switched to a different student house and my girlfriend sleep together almost every night. I lost connection with Lucy a bit (I still met her at parties sometimes and i’d flirt with her a little (more as friends) but nothing too serious because i am loyal and would never cheat on my girlfriend never. But then my grilfriend would get mad for “flirting” with her but i really wasn’t actually flirting ( this was in my girlfriend and i toxic phase)). So i saw lucy sometimes and soometimes we would send each other some messages but nothing big or nothing like it was before. The year after that was covid so nothing really exiting happend. I stayed in quarantaine with my girlfriend and my family that whole year of covid, that improved our relationship a lot. Then comes this year, covid is over and back to the student house. Lucy asked if i knew any nice student houses for her. I said that she could try the student house where i resided and she did. But still me and my girlfriend still spend almost every night togheter in my dorm. That lucy was in the same student house as me of course meant i saw her more often again, but still nothing compared to the amount we did the first year of university. But still i had those same feelings about her eventhough i have a girlfriend that i love very very much. One day lucy and were going to the same party (that happend a lot and wasn’t exeptional) she was already there and i was stil at the studetn house. She sent me a text asking if i would grab something from her dorm and take it with me to give to her (a sweater or something, i dont remember). So i did that but when i went in her dorm i saw her diary (she had this small book that she would write things in and put memories, pictures and so on inside, and she wrote about her life). We had talked about the diary before and she was pretty protective about me not reading it. But as i was alone in her dorm grabbing something for her, i couldn’t resist. I opened it and read it. I read about our first year in college and she had noticed that i liked her and she kept things and funny notes that i wrote that i didn’t even know that she had or even forgot that they existed anymore. I ound that really cute. I could also read her disappointment she felt when i told her i met my current girlfriend. And she even wrote about me these past 2 years when we met at parties and talked/flirted with each other. I think i can say that she also liked/likes me. the vacation I also went on a weekend away with some friends (and friends from my friends) without my girlfriend and here i got to know a girl (she was a friend of a friend) and i did find her very pretty but i didn’t really know her, i saw her at a few parties before throughout the years and we looked at each other and noticed a connection that we found each other attractive but nothing serious. During this weekend we flirted with each other and this time actually flirted and while drunk and dancing even danced close to each other and against eachother. When everyonne went sleeping she and i were the last ones left, just the two of us. I knew i had a girlfriend and i shouldn’t feel this but i really had the urge to have sex with her eventhough i knew i shouldn’t. I had never felt this temptation before it was really weird for me (she also really wanted me). We stood face to face to each other and the tension was really really high but i just couldn’t do it. I was drunk but luckly i did’nt do anything stupid. It was pure lust i did like her but it was more pure attraction i had no real feelings for her. When i came back that weekend i had a mixed feeling: i didn’t regret not kissing her but i also but was also happy that i didn’t do it because i know i shouldn’t and i couldn’t do that to my girlfriend. But it made me realise that i have those feelings of lust and that because i was with my girlfriend i can’t have those random hook ups and enjoy my youth. But i also don’t want to give her up for some random girls. But htat was the first time i had that feeling. This was also the first time i really questioned our relationship and we had 2 weeks were it went really really rough because i was really questioning if i wanted this girl for the rest of my life. Now: It is better now i still really love her but i still sometimes ( once every 2 weeks) i get that thought in my head that this relationship isn’t gonna last and that i have to end it even though everything is great between us and we have lots of fun togheter. There is still Lucy that spooks in my head all the time everytime i see her i realise i like her a lot and it feels like she is the one that got away. I also find Lucy prettier then my own girlfriend and i think she is more stable and more wife material than my current girlfriend. I just really have the feeling that she is the one that got away. everytime i see her i want to talk to her and make her notice me. I get butterflies if i see her, smell her, see her online on instagram,... I think about that a lot and i make myself crazy thinking about it. I really like Lucy but i have this whole life build up with my girlfriend and her family and we have the same friend group and i know if a break up with her we can’t be friends anymore. I can do that but i just know that she can’t, she is unreasenable in some things and that is definitely one. I really don’t know what to do. I have the feeling that im still with my grilfirend out of habit, we don’t even have sex. But still i love her and sometimes when we are together i just keep smiling because im happy with her and she does somethinng cute. But still i have doubts that Lucy is th eone for me. And then there are also the feeling that i want to be single for some time because i am in the prime of my life and want to have experience with other girls (not neccesarly hookinng up because im not that type of guy that hooks up with random people) but still i find it hard to believe that im never gonna have that feeling of being single and no attachments in my life. Conclusion: Im confused to what i should do. Should i calm myself down and don’t worry and just be with the girl that i think i love (my girlfriend) and be with her and skip that exciting phase in my life of being single. Or should i breakup with her and live that single life and see if Lucy truly is the one (whoch i really think she is) But maybe i’ll regret it one i broke up with my gf and Lucy is not that what i thought it was (but i really really like her). If i break up with my girlfriend i loseeverything that we build togheter (echothers famillies, parents, friends, habits,...) I dont want to lose that because our lives are basically togheter and we are always togheter. Please help me and give me advise on what i should do. Sorry for the extreme long post but i’m really stuck with my thoughts.
User article | breakups