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Consent orders: your questions answered
1. What is a consent order? A consent order is the legal document that sets out the financial arrangements between you and your partner when you are divorcing. It can detail what will happen to property, savings, pensions or debts, and whether one of you will pay the other a regular payment to help with living costs. It can also end future financial claims against each of you by the other. It is legally binding, and the court can enforce the order if one of you does not do what is agreed. 2. Won’t our financial ties be cut when we get divorced or end our civil partnership? No. You will still be financially tied to each other, even if you have been divorced or separated for many years. If you remarry, you will forfeit your claims against your partner, and vice versa. 3. Can you get a consent order if you’re living together? No. If you live together, then you can have a separation agreement to set out what will happen to your finances. A separation agreement is different to a consent order because it is not legally binding (meaning the court can’t enforce it).If you live together and have children, then you can still claim child maintenance from your partner. Find out more here on the government website. 4.What else does the court need to sign off a consent order? For the court to sign off your consent order you will need to provide the following;A. A financial snapshot of your assets, debts, pensions and income for you, your ex and any children you have together. This is called a ‘statement of information’ or form D81. The figures you’ll need to include are: the equity in any property, savings, investments business assets, pensions, and your income after tax (net).B. Details of how you’ll divide the finances and arrange any child or spousal maintenance and pension sharing details. This is called the Financial Remedy Order (or Order, or Consent Order). This document will need to be drafted by a trained legal professional.C. If you are sharing or splitting a pension, you will also need a Pension Sharing Order (called Penson Sharing Annex, form P1) that sets out how much pension will be shared between you. This is a separate document to your consent order and will need to be sent to your pension company along with your sealed consent order.D. You will need to complete a Form A, to ask the court to consider your finances.E. It is also advisable to send an explanation to the court about how and why you’ve come to that agreement. You have to demonstrate that you understand how the law works in relation to marital assets. 5. When do you get a consent order? You can apply for a consent order either at the same time as divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership or after your divorce or dissolution. You cannot get a consent order before starting your divorce or dissolution proceeding. The earliest opportunity that you’ll be able to submit your financial agreement to the court is at Decree Nisi stage. 6. Can a judge turn down a consent order? Yes. If a judge feels the arrangement is unfair on one person, the order will be rejected. Sometimes a judge will ask for more information and you can write a letter of explanation. At other times the judge may order a short hearing to hear from both of you as to why you feel your settlement is fair.   7. What is a clean break consent order? It’s a type of consent order used if there are no finances to sort out now but you want to end all future claims against each other. This is usually used if you don’t have any finances to sort out, or if you have already split your finances. You will still both need to give the court a snapshot of your finances (the financial disclosure). 8. Can I do a consent order myself? No, not unless you’re legally trained. Nowadays. It is relatively straightforward to file a divorce online via the government’s website, but you do need to be legally trained to draw up the legal documentation that makes up a consent order. 9. Do you need a solicitor or lawyer to divorce? No. If you’ve already agreed on what you want to do or even if you need some help with negotiating your finances, you don’t have to involve lawyers if you don’t want to. There are plenty of divorce services companies who offer consent order services. However, if you’d like to know what you’re entitled to, or if there are any danger signs (e.g. hiding assets, or domestic violence) then you should protect yourself by getting a good divorce lawyer. You can find a list of family law and divorce law professionals at Resolution. 10. How much does it cost to get a consent order? The range of getting a consent order starts from hundreds of pounds, but can go all the way up to hundreds of thousands if you’re not in agreement and end up in court. There is also a £50 court fee for filing a consent order. If you need help deciding what route is best suited to your personal situation, get free divorce advice from our partners at amicable.
Article | divorce, consent orders
Short course: “Getting It Right for Children”
Do you know the best ways to stay calm and to make sure you listen as well as talk? Are you prepared to see things differently? Can you stop a discussion turning into an argument? When things get heated, most people struggle to keep their cool. Research shows that drawn-out disagreements between parents can make children feel stressed and unhappy, particularly when it’s obvious to them that something is going on.    What do I need to do? Making agreements can be hard. Sticking to them can be even harder. Practising communication and negotiation skills can help things go more smoothly, even if you and your child’s other parent have very different opinions and emotions are running high.  We've suggested a good place for you to start based on what you've told us already. In this section you can work on improving the way you communicate and negotiate. The skills you gain will help you work with your child's other parent to create and stick to your Parenting Plan. Most people find it helpful to go through the skills in order, so we'd recommend starting at the beginning, and going through the three sections in order: STOP TALK IT OUT WORK IT OUT The first step is usually to STOP arguing. This means staying calm, making sure you listen and being prepared to see things differently. The next step is to TALK IT OUT. Here, you will learn how to speak for yourself and the benefits of being clear and sticking to the rules. The final step is to WORK IT OUT. This is where you bring it all together by looking at the best ways to negotiate when things are difficult.  
Activity | course, GIRFC
5 10 items
Pornography: your questions answered
We get lots of posts about pornography and masturbation. Many of you are worried about what it means if your partner uses pornography, or if masturbation might be reason you’re not getting as much sex as you might like. We’ve had a look at the science behind pornography and the effects it can have on your relationship, and we’ve answered some of your questions below. Is pornography bad for my relationship? This depends on your opinion of it. If you have a problem with pornography in general, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be OK with your partner watching it. This can have a negative impact on your relationship [1]. One way pornography can affect your relationship quality is by diminishing your self-esteem. If you aren’t happy about the idea of your partner using pornography, it can make you feel like you don’t matter in the relationship, or that you aren’t good enough. If you don’t mind pornography, or if your self-esteem is very robust, then it’s less likely to have a negative impact on your relationship [2]. Can pornography reduce sexual desire? Watching pornography doesn’t seem to reduce sexual desire. According to one study, pornography doesn’t take away your sexual urges, so it’s unlikely that this would be the reason a partner seems less interested in sex [3]. For more ideas on why sex might be off the table, check out our tips on being in a sexless relationship. Can we watch pornography together? Several studies have shown that couples who watch pornography together can experience improvements in their sex lives [3] [4]. As a shared activity, it can encourage you to talk about sex, creating a more open atmosphere for you to discuss your sexual desires and fantasies. While it’s important to remember that pornography doesn’t always present a realistic picture of sex, it can sometimes be a springboard for talking about what you like and don’t like [5]. How can we use pornography to talk about our relationship? Be open and honest about pornography. If you like using it, talk to your partner about why. If you don’t like it, let your partner know where you stand. These might not be the easiest conversations to start, but they can have a positive effect on your relationship by allowing you to learn more about each other. This can improve your sex life and may help make your general communication easier – couples who find a way to talk about their sexual desires in this way can even strengthen their relationship quality overall [6]. You may find that starting a dialogue around this helps you to be more open to experimentation, with a more varied and satisfying sex life. You can learn about each other’s likes and dislikes and talk about how happy you both are with the level of intimacy in your relationship [6]. Can’t I just use pornography alone? Yes, you can. However, it’s worth being aware that using pornography alone can lead to a decrease in sexual communication between you and your partner [6]. When sexual activity becomes secretive, sexual communication can too. Is there such a thing as ethical pornography? This is a tricky one, and a good question to ask yourself. While looking at pornography can be a healthy activity within your relationship, it’s important to think about where it comes from. You may not have considered whether the performers were paid for their work or even whether they have consented to do everything you’re seeing. It’s not always easy to find ethical material, or to know the background of the things you do find. One place to start might be the Toronto International Porn Festival, which has strict guidelines around its submission policy and encourages a diversity of sexual interests. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what you think is acceptable but, if you’re unsure about the ethics of a particular piece, the best advice is don’t watch it.   References [1] Maas, M. K., et al. (2018). A Dyadic Approach to Pornography Use and Relationship Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Couples: The Role of Pornography Acceptance and Anxious Attachment. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(6). 772–782. [2] Stewart, D., & Szymanski, N. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5), 257-271. [3] Brown, C., Carroll, C., Yorgason, J., Busby, S., Willoughby, J., & Larson, B. (2017). A Common-Fate Analysis of Pornography Acceptance, Use, and Sexual Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Married Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 575-584. [4] Maddox, A., Rhoades, M., & Markman, G. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. [5] Daneback, K., Træen, B., & Månsson, S. (2009). Use of Pornography in a Random Sample of Norwegian Heterosexual Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(5), 746-753. [6] Kohut, T., Balzarini, R., Fisher, W., Campbell, L., Impett, E., & Muise, A. (2018). Pornography’s associations with open sexual communication and relationship closeness vary as a function of dyadic patterns of pornography use within heterosexual relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(4), 655-676.
Article | pornography, masturbation
Parenting courses and disabled children
When you’re a parent of a disabled child, it’s wise to take as much help as you can get. There may be more support on offer than you realise, so speak to everyone who might be able to help – your child’s GP and other clinical professionals, your local children’s services, the school, and even friends or family who might know what’s available in the area. There is still a lot of stigma around parenting support. As a proud parent, you might be tempted to talk yourself into thinking that you don’t need it or shouldn’t accept it. However, when embarking on the most important job you will ever do, you might as well take whatever help is on offer. Seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a smart, practical choice to help yourself be the best parent you can. If you’ve been asked to do a parenting course, it can feel like you’re being judged. Many parents worry that their parenting skills are being called into question, or that their child is in trouble – try to remember that parenting programmes are designed to support you in developing the positive skills you already have. They can help you deal with stress and improve your and your partner’s relationship with your child and with each other. If you can get onto a programme with specific content for your child’s needs, you may find content that’s especially relevant, but a general parenting course can still help. For lots of parents of disabled children, attending parenting programmes helps to create a sense of stability. Having a specific course of action mapped out can give you a feeling of security which can help your child to feel more confident too [1]. Personal empowerment  A parenting programme can also have a positive effect on how you feel, alleviating some of the stress in your life, and helping you to feel better about your role as a parent. One study found that parents of disabled children felt more empowered and more empathetic after undertaking a specialist parenting programme [2]. Disabled children may be more likely to display behaviour that challenges than non-disabled children as they may have no other way of communicating that they are distressed or unhappy. As a parent, you may feel very alone, and worried about the best approach to take. Getting expert help through a parenting class can help alleviate your concerns, and it can be a relief to discover that other parents are facing the same issues. If you are dealing with behaviour issues, you can also read Contact’s guide Understanding your child’s behaviour. Family support If you can’t get access to an appropriate parenting programme, or don’t feel comfortable attending a generic one, you can still get support from friends and family – you don’t have to do everything on your own. Caring for a child with additional needs can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when tackled alone, so don’t hesitate to call on your social support network. Parents of disabled children cope better when they work together as a family unit. Having a strong group dynamic can actively strengthen the resilience of each individual family member [3]. This means that you, if you are the main caregiver, can benefit from the combined strength of your partner, your parents, and other family members. Lean on whoever is available. Accept help when it’s offered, ask for it when it’s not, and build a strong unit of support around your family. Short breaks Of course, not all families have good relationships. Sometimes, the arrival of a disabled child or the realisation that an older child has a disability, can add to already strained relations. Other family members may go through the same emotions as parents – including anger, grief and denial – and some find it hard to move on and accept the situation. Even if you feel disappointed by the support you receive from family members, there are practical services which may be available to give you the chance of a real break and to make time for you and your relationship. ‘Short breaks’, which ensure a disabled child or adult is cared for while the main carer has a break, may include: Overnight care in the family home or elsewhere. Daytime care in the family home or elsewhere. Educational or leisure activities for disabled children and young people outside their homes. Services available to assist carers in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays. Most breaks are arranged by social services – the department in your local authority, which is responsible for providing help to meet the needs of disabled children and adults. Usually, social services will need to assess your child and the family’s needs before services can be arranged but getting a break can be a lifeline for some relationships. For more information about getting a break, see Contact’s guide, Services and support from your local authority – England. If you can’t access short breaks, you can ask your local Family Information Service about local organisations offering relaxation sessions for carers, as well as activities in the holidays and at weekends for you, your disabled child and any siblings.   References [1] Nelson, P., Kirk, S., Caress, A., & Glenny, A. (2012). Parents' Emotional and Social Experiences of Caring for a Child Through Cleft Treatment. Qualitative Health Research, 22(3), 346-359. [2] Burton, R., Zwahr-Castro, S., Magrane, J., Hernandez, C., Farley, L., & Amodei, H. (2018). The Nurturing Program: An Intervention for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(4), 1137-1149. [3] Suzuki, Hiratani, Mizukoshi, Hayashi, & Inagaki. (2018). Family resilience elements alleviate the relationship between maternal psychological distress and the severity of children’s developmental disorders. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 83, 91-98.
Article | disability, parenting
“Valentine 365: I feel loved and cared for when…”
Is it cards, chocolates, cuddly toys and uncomfortable underwear day again??? Valentine’s day has become about stuff… and we believe there shouldn’t be only one day when couples do romance. But, Valentine’s day is a good opportunity to start upping your game with a technique that will work ALL YEAR ROUND and the only ‘stuff’ you will need is a pen and paper. Try this with your partner tonight Each get a piece of paper and a pen. Across the top, write: "I FEEL LOVED AND CARED FOR WHEN…" Then write the numbers 1 to 10 down the left-hand side. Fill in 10 things your partner can do that would make you feel loved, cared for and supported by them (examples below). Once you have each written your list of things that would give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, SWAP your lists. You now each have a cheat sheet of simple things that you can do to make your partner feel loved and cared if they are having a tough day or you have been arguing or busy for weeks. Note: In really difficult times, some people do the entire list at once (!!). If your lists get stale in the future, you can refresh them with new items. Examples Run me a bath unprompted. Make me cheese on toast. Clear out the car. Bring home my favourite chocolate bar. Empty the dishwasher. Make me a cuppa. Buy me a magazine, then take the kids out for an hour. Stop looking at your phone from 8pm. Let me watch my TV show in peace. Ask me how I am. Book an event for the family. Take me for dinner. Plan a day out. What is stopping you? Write your lists and enjoy feeling loved, cared for and supported. Kate Nicolle Kate is a trainer for OnePlusOne, the organisation behind Click. This technique is from the practitioner programme, How To Argue Better.
Article | communication, love
They mess you up, your mum and dad
As that PG-rated version of the famous poem goes, our parents have a lot to answer for. We may not know it at the time, but our attitudes to relationships are formed when we are children, and we learn a lot from seeing adults interacting with each other while we are growing up. Because of this, people who grow up with divorced or separated parents are more likely to have a negative view of marriage and may be less interested in romantic relationships in general. When they do form relationships, they might be more likely to get into arguments with their partners and less keen on the idea of making a long-term commitment [1]. If your parents were separated or divorced, it can affect the way you view relationships from the start. As you get older, this can then affect the way you interact with the people you have relationships with. This doesn’t mean that you’re destined to repeat your parents’ patterns, but it can be a helpful way of understanding how you relate to others. When you understand the source of your attitude to relationships, it can make it easier for you to set a pace that suits you and to recognise problems when they come up. It’s OK if you don’t feel ready to make a commitment and, of course, some level of conflict is to be expected in most relationships (it’s the way you handle conflict that matters most). But, if you aren’t as happy with your relationship as you’d like to be, and you’re looking to make some changes, then recognising the source of your feelings can be a good place to start. Ask yourself what you might have learned about relationships when you were growing up. Who were your adult role models and what kinds of relationships did they have? Most of what we understand about how relationships work comes from seeing the way our parents interact. When we see them supporting each other, making compromises, and getting over arguments, we learn important skills about how to do this in our own relationships. If you grew up with separated parents, you might have missed out on a lot of that, especially if your parents didn’t handle their breakup very well or continued to argue in front of you. Even when separated parents do get on well, their children can still miss out on important lessons. You could be left trying to figure out relationship skills the hard way – through trial and error. As a result, you might find it harder to deal with relationship stress and arguments with your partner, all of which can make your relationship feel less satisfying [2]. These issues can also be linked to problems with sex and intimacy. You may find that you are less interested in sexual experiences. You might not always recognise it when your partner is trying to be intimate with you, or you might just not be into it. This is quite common for people who grew up in homes with a single parent, particularly if there wasn’t much adult affection on display [2]. Go easy on yourself, especially in your early relationships when you are still figuring out what you want. Ask your partner to be patient with you and try to be honest about anything you are finding difficult. If intimacy is an issue, ask your partner to slow things down. If you find it hard to commit, just be clear about where you’re at so that your partner can manage their expectations. Growing up with step-parents Of course, if you grew up with step-parents, it’s possible that a lot of this won’t apply to you. Unlike children who grow up with both parents, you may have had the benefit of seeing how a successful relationship begins. This can play a big part in how you go on to form your own relationships. If your parents separated when you were a child, but another parental figure entered your life, you might even be better at starting relationships than people whose parents stayed together [3]. References [1] Cui, M., & Fincham, F. (2010). The differential effects of parental divorce and marital conflict on young adult romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 17(3), 331-343. [2] Shulman, S., Zlotnik, A., Shachar-Shapira, L., Connolly, J., & Bohr, Y. (2012). Adolescent Daughters' Romantic Competence: The Role of Divorce, Quality of Parenting, and Maternal Romantic History. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(5), 593-606. [3] Ivanova, K., Mills, M., & Veenstra, R. (2014). Parental Residential and Partnering Transitions and the Initiation of Adolescent Romantic Relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(3), 465-475.  
Article | separation, divorce, dating
Raising a baby after a breakup
Raising a baby with your ex-partner is unlikely to be something you ever planned for. But, if you and your partner have separated while your child is still very young, you’ll need to find a way to make things work so that you can get on with the job of being parents at a crucial time.  The breakup of a long-term relationship – particularly when there is a child involved – can be profoundly painful. You might be feeling sad, angry, guilty, regretful, relieved, or any number of emotions as you’re left reeling from the shock of the separation. And, while you might need support to get you through it, you must also keep in mind that this time in your child’s life is more important than anything going on between you and your ex. If you feel unable to move forward, it can be useful to get some external help, either in the form of relationship counselling, or individual therapy. Talk to your GP or ask at your local children’s centre to find out what support is available locally. When your emotions are still very raw, it can be difficult to see past them to the next step. Your goal should be get to a stage where you’re able to be the best parent you can be. The first three years of your child’s life are a crucial stage of their emotional development. If you are sharing custody with your ex, be aware that overnight stays in two separate homes can impede your child’s emotional development. While you might both want to have the child living with you, you may have to set aside your own wants for your child’s needs. Don’t focus on fairness between you and your ex – focus on providing continuity and consistency for your child. To achieve this, you’re going to have to cooperate with each other and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. Put your differences aside, and make sure that your child has access to the warmth and care of both parents, even if you no longer want to be with each other [1]. Positive co-parenting You can help your child adjust to your separation by maintaining a positive relationship with your ex. Your child doesn’t care which of you was in the wrong, or which of you is hurting the most – they just need you both to be there for them. When you and your ex are getting along well, it can actually be a positive force for your child’s emotional development [2], regardless of the fact that you’re not together as a couple. Further support Like many parents in your situation, you might feel like you are powerless to change anything, particularly if you’re finding it hard to get along with your ex. However, change has to start somewhere, so it might as well start with you. Let go of any resentments and set aside the temptation to blame your partner. You can be the one to make the first positive change. You may have to be persistent, but you can start to nudge your co-parenting relationship towards being the positive force that your child needs. For more practical support, try our short course, Getting it Right for Children. It’s completely free to use – if you’re not already registered with us, just create a free Click account and you’ll be able to get started. If it feels OK to do so, consider sharing this course with your ex. Suggest it as something you can both do to make sure you have the best co-parenting relationship possible for your child. References  [1] Pruett, M., Mcintosh, J., & Kelly, J. (2014). Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children. Family Court Review, 52(2), 240-255. [2] Camisasca, E., Miragoli, S., Di Blasio, P., & Feinberg, M. (2018). Co-parenting Mediates the Influence of Marital Satisfaction on Child Adjustment: The Conditional Indirect Effect by Parental Empathy. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-12.
Article | separation, divorce, co-parenting
Loneliness for new parents
Being a parent of a disabled child keeps you extremely busy and changes the patterns of your lifestyle in ways that are hard to anticipate. You may not have the same access to your social circle as you used to, and many new parents say they feel socially isolated and lonely [1] [2]. “With a non-disabled child, you feel isolated, but with a disabled child that feeling is exacerbated. For the first two years of Nathan’s life, I had a lot to come to terms with, and at the same time I had to put an enormous amount of things into place like facilities and the professionals involved in Nathan’s care”. Why do new parents get lonely? A lot of the pressure of parenting comes from practical changes to your lifestyle – new working patterns, lack of sleep, more things to worry about, extra costs, and so on. Another reason you may feel more alone is that your couple relationship has to take a back seat while you adjust to your new circumstances [2]. Ordinarily, your partner might be the first person you’d go to if you’re feeling lonely – they may even be the person who stops you from feeling lonely in the first place. During the transition to parenthood, your best source of social support isn’t as available as they used to be, and you might be less available for them too. This can be magnified when you have a disabled child, or when you are concerned your child may be disabled but don’t yet have a diagnosis. Some parents worry that it is their fault their child is disabled because of something that happened before the baby was conceived, or during pregnancy. It is important to remember that it is rarely anyone’s fault, but it is still emotionally very draining to see your child suffer or struggle, and you may not have much energy left for your partner. It can be equally difficult asking for help or admitting that you need it. “I wasn’t brought up to ask – there’s enough guilt around having a disabled child anyway.” “Any difficulties between my husband and I are exacerbated by the additional stress and time lost to caring for a disabled child.” The pressure to be a perfect parent Another cause of loneliness in the early days of parenting is the pressure to live up to the standards that society sets for new parents. All parents face this to some extent but, when you’re dealing with the extra challenges of caring for your disabled child and figuring out what kind of additional support your child needs, the pressure can be overwhelming. You might look at other parents and wonder if you’ll ever be able to have the same kinds of experiences as them, particularly around issues like breastfeeding, sleep and potty training. When everyone around you seems to be coping better than you are, it can leave you feeling isolated and alone [3]. It’s important to remember that there is help available. You can find information, advice and further help in these guides from our partners at Contact: Helping your child’s sleep Feeding and eating Potty and toilet training Support from other parents Trying to access support can be very distressing. It can seem as though support is lacking and that the places parents usually go to meet are not accessible or even welcoming to you. This is when it’s particularly important to find other parents of disabled children you can talk to. Sharing practical solutions to shared experiences is a valuable source of support that many parents get from talking to others who’ve been there too. “Her condition has thrown us into a world that we never knew existed, we had to adjust. Me and my partner are forced into these new experiences, and we didn’t know how to talk about it with each other. I think that parents who don’t have a disabled children find it hard to relate to us and they don’t understand what we’ve been through.” Look on your local authority website to find out if there are any support groups near you – these can be a lifeline, and many parents talk about an overwhelming sense of relief at finding other parents like them. Getting in touch with other parents can also put you in touch with local support you may not know about. For example, you may be entitled to a short break from your caring role, which can give you and your partner space to be with each other and reconnect – this can be vital when you’re busy caring and fighting for support. “Taking time to be with yourself and your partner can re-establish relationships that are buried under doctors’ appointments, being told what they can’t do, and hopes and disappointments of life.” While feelings of loneliness can be very difficult to deal with as they’re happening, it’s often a temporary state [3]. It’s important to get support in place, but it’s also worth reminding yourself that this too shall pass. Your partner can help As a couple, try to be sensitive to each other’s needs. You’re both going through a huge change and dealing with news and practicalities that you haven’t had a chance to plan for, but your experience of these things may not be the same as each other’s.   Get together with your partner and talk about your experiences of parenting. Be honest about the disappointments and acknowledge how difficult the transition to parenthood can be. Opening up about the things you’re most worried about, including feeling lonely, will make it easier for your partner to understand what kind of support you need. Your relationship relies on each of you knowing how the other is doing, which means taking time to talk about thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, and needs. Each of you needs to know the other has heard them. That means really listening to each other – listening to the words and understanding the feelings that underlie them. When your partner shares their feelings with you, don’t judge them – listen and try to understand. Recognise your differences. Try not to make assumptions about what your partner is thinking and be as open with your partner as you can be. Look at where you might be able to make changes that might make things better. These conversations can help you feel closer as a couple, making parenting feel more like a shared experience and reducing the sense of loneliness felt by many new parents [3]. “Neither my husband nor I can imagine life without the other – neither of us could cope with the children without the other’s help. There is a bond between us that can never be shared by anyone else.” Old friends and new friends Another reason new parents can feel socially isolated is the sudden change in social circles [4]. When you become a parent, your life patterns change completely, and you may find it harder to spend time with friends, particularly as a couple. When your friends do invite you out, you may have to decline, or one of you may attend as a representative while the other stays at home with the baby. Try to use this time as a chance to connect with other parents in your local area. As you familiarise yourself with your child’s care team and other local services, you may find yourselves spending time with people in similar situations to your own. These new social connections can become invaluable sources of practical and emotional support. While clinical and therapeutic support is vital, there’s nothing quite like getting together for a chat with people who really understand you [4]. References [1] AXA Healthcare (2015). Social isolation putting first time mums at risk. Available at: [2] Keizer, R., Dykstra, P., Poortman, A., & Kaslow, Nadine J. (2010). The Transition to Parenthood and Well-Being: The Impact of Partner Status and Work Hour Transitions. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(4), 429-438. [3] Lee, K., Vasileiou, K., & Barnett, J. (2016). ‘Lonely within the mother’: An exploratory study of first-time mothers’ experiences of loneliness. Journal of Health Psychology, 135910531772345. [4] Toombs, A. L., Morrissey, K., Simpson, E., Gray, C. M., Vines, J., Balaam. (2018).  Supporting the complex Social Lives of New Parents. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper no. 420. Available at:
Article | loneliness, disability
Community posts
“Falling for an unavailable man”
OK, here goes. Before I get everyone telling me how awful I am... I already know. But I need to get this off my chest as there’s no one else I can speak to about this. I was in a relationship (on and off) for five years. I think we’d both settled. He cheated on me three times and I’ve caught him on dating apps numerous times. Needless to say I forgave him every time and believed his lies. I then started to feel incredibly depressed. I wouldn’t go out, wouldn’t talk to him, and generally didn’t treat him very well (he didn’t really seem to care at the time). Anyway, there was a works do a year ago and my colleague kissed me. My colleague who is living with his partner - I thought they had a strong relationship. It was definitely just a drunken snog but I did enjoy it. At the time my partner was telling me he didn’t know if he wanted to be with me so it was a great confidence boost. I didn’t really know my colleague that well at the time so it was easy enough to forget about it and never speak of it again. As the months went on we grew closer and closer, I was confiding in him more than my partner (I didn’t really realise this though). I then realised I was starting to get feelings for him, and started having dreams that we were in a relationship. A couple of months later at another works do we kissed again, but both knew what we were doing. After that we started talking a lot about us kissing, it became the main topic we spoke about, and basically saying we want to take it further but can’t because we were both in a relationship and didn’t want to hurt our partners. He’d never cheated before either and always vowed we wouldn’t so we agreed it would never happen. Anyway one day we were talking and he just kissed me. A lot. Then we both went back to our partners and agreed it can’t happen again. The chemistry was just becoming unbearable. Eventually, we took it to the next level and slept together. We were both completely sober and knew exactly what we were doing. Then a couple of days later he tells me he’s riddled in guilt and can’t do it again which I agreed. I couldn’t live with the guilt so broke it off with my partner and have now moved out. I cannot stop thinking about my colleague but nothing has happened since. I think it got too serious when we slept together and we both realised how awful we were. We’re still very close, and talk about everything, but don’t flirt as much now. He’s been so lovely to me when no one else has been through my breakup. He phoned me a couple of days ago just to make sure I was okay. He loves his girlfriend, and I certainly don’t want to split them up as she doesn’t deserve that, but at the same time it’s killing me how much I like him and want to be with him ALL the time. Has anyone had any similar experiences?? How do you deal with it??
User article | cheating, unrequited
“I love him but he has a girlfriend”
I met this guy over social media on his birthday and at the time I didn’t know he had a girlfriend. We snapped a lot and I found out that we had a lot in common. I began having a crush on him but i wasn’t able to use social media for a month so I couldn’t talk to him anymore. I switched to his school a couple weeks into the new school year. I had never met him in person. At first, we never talked in person even though we had our last class in the same hallway. I eventually got enough courage to finally speak to him. He had already knew I had a crush on him over summer but we remained friends. I talked to him a lot. We walked together in between classes and I think it’s because his girlfriend didn’t go to the same school as him. I had stopped liking him but after a couple weeks I had realized I had fallen in love with him. He was so perfect to me. Even the things he was insecure about I loved. He continued to date his girlfriend and friendzone me as nicely as possible. I always had a feeling that he liked me but my friends told me that he didn’t. I was living in a fantasy. I always made scenarios in my head about him and I. My best friend felt bad for me because he knew the guy I liked didn’t like me back. I really wanted to stop liking him. I tried everything to stop liking him. I remember I would stare at pictures of him and his girlfriend and tell myself to stop liking him. I finally stopped liking him. I was really happy about that. I thought I had moved on. I had a new crush and felt fine. My new crush liked me back and I realized that I couldn’t do anything with him as I still was in love with the other guy. I still love him. No matter anything he does I still seem to love him even if he did something to hurt my feelings. I don’t know why I still like him. I’ve liked him for around 8 months. I know I shouldn’t like him. He doesn’t appreciate all of the nice things I do for him. He also has a girlfriend. But he used to give me signals all the time that would make me think that he liked me. We would go out of our way just to see each other in between classes. He would get touchy. I really don’t want to like him. He’s caused me a lot of pain. And if you think about it, he technically cheated on his girlfriend and I wouldn’t want to be with a cheater. I feel like a horrible person because I like him and I really need to appreciate him and his relationship with his girlfriend.
User article | unrequited, friends
“I am in love and he has a girlfriend”
Hello guys, First of all, I would like to make it clear that I have NO INTENTIONS whatsoever on breaking up a relationship - that’s just not me. But I cannot help but hope for a future for us. It’s all just confusing. First of all, me and him got to know each other at around April of 2019, to the extent of us becoming almost best friends in a ridiculously short period of time; we just clicked. There was undeniably some flirting here and there, but it was mainly dominated by our friendship. We would go to the library to study, play imessage games the whole night before our exams etc... just the perfect friendship. During the 2019 summer, I went on holiday for a long time, just when I had started off a great friendship, with very subtle feelings. During this holiday, I made a big mistake. I had gotten into a relationship, and excitedly told him about it. At this point I had never been in a relationship before, therefore, with the magic influence of the summer time, I had rushed into things with no rational thought. However this didn’t last long, as we ‘broke up’ shortly after. When I had returned from this holiday in September, my boy-best friend had disappeared; not in the literal sense, but was almost unreachable. A guy that I used to talk to everyday, that I had subtle feelings for, had become unapproachable. You guessed it, he had a girlfriend. I have no idea why, but I honestly felt sad. I had no right to, I was first to get into a relationship during summer, although my one wasn’t as serious as his. He had met a girl, gotten into a relationship and decided to live a low-key off social relationship with her. I had tried to hit him up a couple of times, but it often seemed like he didn’t want to engage in conversations, therefore I let him be for quite some time and focused on other things. Literally about two weeks ago, him and his friend (who is also an acquaintance of mine), decided to swing by my school so we could sit in the car and catch up. I was so excited to talk to him again, catch up with him, maybe return to olden times. I didn’t know how much this would affect me until I saw him and heard his voice again, after a very long time. We talked and just engaged in conversations about our current love lives (mine being very dull) etc. Ever since then, we decided to meet up every week, once a week to do this, which I'm not sure will be kept up but we’ll see. Today is valentines day. It has been about two weeks that I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He is constantly on my mind and I’ve been an emotional wreck for what seems like so so long. I constantly have butterflies, but not the cute type - a full on what feels like an adrenaline rush. I’m seeing his girlfriend and him posting their dinner, their classy outfits of a perfect date night and I can’t help but tear up. I’m so happy for him, he deserves the absolute best, but I can’t help but wonder whether this amazing, funny, compatible boy would have been with me today, if I had not made that huge mistake during summer. I don’t know what love feels like, but I think this might be it. I think I am in love.
User article | unrequited, friends
“My boyfriend stopped wanting sex”
I am at such a loss as to what to do and feel that I cant talk about this with anyone I know. It just feels embarrassing or too honest. My boyfriend and i started dating a year and a half ago. We immediately connected as friends and a month later, after a night of drunken fun, we had sex. I was just getting out of a toxic relationship and wasn't ready for a relationship or public dating but we continued sleeping together for months. It felt passionate and fun and I actually really enjoyed who he was as a person. We talked to each other every day and I looked forward to it. I started being able to see a future with him and fell in love. Eventually, though I was terrified of being vulnerable to hurt again after my past relationships had ended so badly, after 4 and a half months of this, I took the leap and committed to an exclusive relationship with him. We used to have sex all of the time, sometimes multiple times a day. As I committed to him and only him, i thought we would be so happy and everything would magically fall into a place. I guess still had some hope for a happily ever after. When we became exclusive, the sex came to a screeching halt. We talked every day. He cuddled me and spooned me at night and softly kissed me goodnight and goodbye in the mornings, reminding me that he loves me. We spent every night together and carried on with routines, but still no sex. Feeling shy but like I had to do something about our sexual drought, I initiated things when we would be in bed and he would hold my hand and tell me he was tired. Night after night, I shyly pushed myself to touch him and kiss him and hope that things could progress but he always cut me off. Months went by. The happily ever after train I'd accidentally secretly hoped for had been derailed. "Was it me?" I wondered. "Did I need to work out more? Maybe he wasn't physically attracted to me?" I decided to focus on my own confidence and hoped the rest would follow. It didn't. Many awkward conversations about our lack of a physical relationship transpired though. He assured me time and again that it wasn't because of me. He just wasn't in the mood. When he knew more he would let me know. One day, he handed me his phone and I saw porn that was bookmarked on his phone. My heart dropped and in my mind, I immediately sunk to the ground on my knees in defeat. He still had a sexual drive. It had to do with me. I've developed such a resentment for the fact that I've been in two unhealthy relationships with men who constantly used my body and I found someone who i truly love, but he doesn't want to be physically intimate with me. I've had a rough sexual background that took years for me to move past, cope, and see sex as being a beautiful thing again. My boyfriend knows that I've been a little damaged in the past but how could I ever tell him that I had to move past being raped by three different men to the point of being drugged, beaten, threatened, and/or passed around over 100 times? For years I saw sex as a punishment and it feels incredibly unfair that I've worked through it and I want so badly to experience positive intimate sex in a caring loving relationship and I can't. How is it that I could deal with these things, but he didn't want to have sex with me because he just "doesn't feel like it?" If I told him how broken I have been, he would REALLY never want to have sex with me again. When we've had discussions about it, he's implied that I'm superficial for needing that in my life and made me feel shamed for bringing it up at all. I worried that having an open discussion with him about it could make things feel even weirder but at that point, it had been months and months since we'd last had sex so i felt I didn't have tons to lose. He tells me to give it time. I gave it more time but found myself looking to fill my sexual drive in other ways. Before i knew it, I was web-camming with a stranger just so I could feel seen. It only happened one time and didn't feel worth it to me. Just sad that I had gotten to that point. More months went by. I found myself hitting a joint in a car after work with a friend and he kissed me. After months and months of not feeling touched, it felt nice to feel so wanted again. He kissed me and grabbed me and I insisted on keeping clothes on and then as we were kissing, he came. So now I had not had sex with my boyfriend in at least nine months and I cheated on him with someone that came in about five seconds in his pants. I drove away, horrified at my actions, crying. I told him that I had cheated and how far it had gone (minus him going in his jeans) and that our lack of affection was escalating to me looking for other things and that was a problem for me. I told him that if we didn't reconnect sexually, we were doomed. He didn't say much. However, a few days after, he grabbed my hand in bed and put it on his hard-on. I felt optimistic that maybe we could have a sexual relationship again. Then he came in my hand in about five seconds. The same thing happened later. It didn't used to be like that. I know he's capable of having sex. A few months after that, he woke me up with it while we were spooning and then got behind me. I was so happy to be having sex again and it felt so great. Then it happened again the next week in the same positions. Then the next week, woken up and in the same positions. I took initiative and got on top for a while. His alarm went off during, I jumped off to turn it off, and he got soft. He said he'd gotten off already. I'm 90% certain he was lying. So now, he's finally giving me just enough sex to get my by to where i wont break up with him but it feels like he doesn't want to look at me and pretend I'm someone else? The sexual aspect is the primary fault in our relationship and it feels like if I got better, so would we. Any plans I could be building for the future, I'm hesitant with because as our physical intimacy is this rocky, it feels like our relationship is unstable in my mind too. I've thought of many possibilities as to why we are here. Was he gay? I've seen his porn history so no. Was there someone else? I really don't get that feeling either. I wonder if it's hard for him to see someone he loves in a sexual way? Is that common? I've heard of the madonna vs. whore thing. As soon he confessed his love for me and "won me' he stopped seeing me a sexual way. I miss being touched and feeling wanted in every way. I want to be kissed, touched, and feel passion again. All I'm looking for is to feel like i'm enough with someone. I love him and we've somewhat build a life together in the last year and a half. He talks about the future all of the time and how we should buy a house, etc. Should I throw in the towel and give up on our relationship? Am I ready to give up a good relationship because of sex? I have no idea what the reason could be that he doesn't want to have sex with me but it makes me feel incredibly undesirable in every way and as much as I hate to admit it, has really hurt my confidence and made me needy, annoying, and desperate. Am I beating a dead horse? Am I hurting myself more? Should I say or do something or should I run?
User article | sexless