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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.  If you’re worried that you or your partner might be using alcohol to deal with stress, you can find a free short course on Click’s Coping with stress and alcohol section.   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. Our Me, You and Baby Too resource can help you and your partner manage this period of change together. You will learn how to argue better, which is better for you, better for your partner, and better for your baby. 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 emerge from 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 such as 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 such as 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. Some couples gave us their suggestions: 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 going to all the games. Go out but spend less. If you go for a meal, just have one course. Get a bottle of wine or some cans from the shop to take home. When the weather is nice, take walks and picnics in the park. Look for free activities in your area. You might be surprised by the fun events available at no cost. 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 is being limited to small numbers of close family. 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 being filmed and streamed so that 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’ll 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 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 both 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 still 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
During a global event, we’re all making adjustments and looking for 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 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 It can be hard to know how much to tell your children about everything that’s going on. They will already know a lot because of the changes they’ve had to make in their lives and, depending on their age, they may have picked up information from the news or from their friends. But, with lots of uncertainty and new information coming out every day, 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 lots we’re not sure about at the moment 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
Lockdown: how couples can cope together
Over the course of your lives as a couple, you’ll probably go through lots of stressful situations together. Many of these will be things that only happen to one of you, like getting ill or having a tough time at work. In those times, the other partner might step up and offer support. But, as we all adjust to living through a global event, we find ourselves facing something that affects everyone – that alone can be a lot to deal with, and it may kick off lots of difficult thoughts and feelings. As a couple, it can be hard to know how to cope. What does this mean to each of you as individuals? How will you support each other? What if you both need support at the same time? We’re all going to deal with this in our own ways. You and your partner may have different ways of coping, and you may need different types of support at different times. Coping with stress together Stress happens when we feel unable to cope with the things we need to do. It’s like a balancing act – when you’re feeling strong and energised, you can cope with all that life throws at you. But, if you’re feeling worried and tired, then even an average day can be overwhelming [1]. Having a supportive partner can help you feel more in control of things. When you and your partner support each other well, you might find you’re both better at coping with – and moving on from – stressful situations [2] [3]. Many couples and families have found themselves in lockdown or self-isolation together. This is a new and strange situation and is likely to require new ways of coping together. But here’s something interesting – even in a ‘normal’ situation, with just one of you under stress, we would still recommend finding a way of coping together. So, from that point of view, the way you’ll get through this situation shouldn’t be entirely different from the way you’d get through any other. Shared coping is easier when you’ve got shared goals. These might be long term jobs like keeping the house clean or helping the children with their schoolwork, or they could be fun things like working through a box set or doing a jigsaw puzzle together. Think about what you both want to get out of this time. Perhaps you could draw up a list of goals to work on together – even easy ones will help you feel connected. You can use the goal-setting feature on Click. Getting through a crisis can be good for your relationship, as long as you find ways of coping together. Mutual support can reduce stress for both of you – when one of you feels better, the other will too, and this can make you feel more supported as a unit [4]. This is great news because, when we’re happy with our relationships, we tend to feel better in general [5]. How to be supportive for your partner Support can be offered in different ways: Emotional support.This is when you show your partner that you have understood. Practical support. This is when you offer ways of solving a problem. Delegating. This is when you take on tasks to give your partner a break [6]. Emotional support helps your partner feel listened to and shows them that you are making the effort understand what they are going through. It’s usually best to offer emotional support first, rather than jumping in with practical support. This video shows the difference between emotional and practical support. The video was made at a time when going out and doing the shopping was a little easier than it is now, but the ideas are still relevant. Notice Naomi’s reaction to the different types of support from Liam: When you offer support, do it willingly, and take your partner’s concerns seriously. They will be able to tell when you’re being sincere. How to talk to each other about stress When you talk to your partner about a stressful situation, try to describe your feelings as well as the situation. Start sentences with “I feel…” and explain what the situation means to you. Tell your partner why you are upset, and what you hope will change. When your partner tells you about a stressful situation, show your support by listening properly. Put down whatever you are doing and give your full attention. Ask questions to learn more. Try summarising the problem to make sure you’ve properly understood. You could use the following guide to help with talking about problems: Explain what the problem is. Discuss it together and look for solutions. Talk about what you will each do next. Alcohol In stressful situations, we might be tempted to turn to harmful ways of managing things, like drinking too much. While alcohol can feel like an effective way to cope with stress in the moment, it’s usually more harmful in the long run – the negative effects on your mood and general health can end up causing more stress than they solve. Try to stick to other, healthier ways of improving your mood, like exercise or phoning a friend for a chat. If you’re worried that you or your partner might be using alcohol to deal with stress, have a look at our alcohol site, where you can find our free short course, ‘Coping with stress’. References [1] Lazarus & Folkman, 1984[2] Bodenmann, Meuwly, & Kayser, 2011[3] Meuwly, Bodenmann, Germann, Bradbury, Ditzen, & Heinrichs, 2012[4] Regan et al., 2014[5] Traa, De Vries, Bodenmann, & Den Oudsten, 2014[6] Falconier, Jackson, Hilpert, & Bodenmann, 2015
Article | stress, isolation
Relationships and social distancing
We’ve all found ourselves in a situation we couldn’t plan for. We know that the best thing to do is stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible but, understandably, a lot of us will be worried about what that might mean. There are lots of tips and ideas for dealing with various aspects of the current situation, but we’re going to focus on our expertise – relationships. Our relationships with others make it easier for us to adjust to and cope with stressful situations. This article will help you find ways to look after your relationships as you switch to a new way of being, for however long that may be. Why relationships matter In a period of social distancing, normal concerns like work, family, and children can be intensified and you worry about how you will cope [1] [2]. You might be adjusting to different ways of working or facing the idea of being unable to work at all. Many of you will also be looking for ways to keep the children busy while they’re off school. On top of all of this, it feels like there’s something new to worry about every time you look at the news or social media. We don’t know what will happen, or when things will change. In the meantime, we’ve got to get on with our lives. Find an exercise community While there are many great reasons to snuggle up in front of the TV, you could see this as an opportunity to get fit. Exercise can have a positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing [3] [4]. Under UK government guidelines, you should only exercise outside once a day. But, if you can make yourself a little space, there are no restrictions on how much exercise you can do at home. There are lots of exercise videos available online, from aerobics to yoga to Pilates to dance. Could you commit to doing a home workout three times a week? Exercising in a group can be a great way to stay well [5], so take the opportunity to search for exercise classes online. Even if you’re on your own in real life, working out with an online instructor can give you a sense of community, knowing that other people around the world are doing the same activity as you. Use technology to stay connected The internet and social media allow us to keep in touch with loved ones in a way that isn’t always possible face to face. In a period when you can’t visit or meet up with friends and family in person, make use of web chats and video calling to stay connected. Send a quick text and see who wants to book in a chat. Get yourself on Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, Houseparty, or whatever works for you, and hang out with a friend or family member for a bit. You could plan to bring a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, so it feels like you’re meeting up in real life. And, with things like Netflix Party and twoseven, you can even have long distance movie nights. Feel closer through the power of imagination Being apart from loved ones can be difficult. If you don’t live with your partner, you might be missing sex and intimacy. Even if you’ve got your immediate family at home, you might just want to hug your granny! Whoever you’re missing, you can support the relationship by staying close emotionally. It may not be easy but switching your focus to the emotional connection can be just as good for your relationship as being in the same physical space [6]. One way to hold onto this closeness is to imagine that you’re physically close. Visualising yourselves together can boost your mood [7] and make you feel closer [8]. Try this exercise, focusing on someone you want to feel closer to: Find a space where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. Think about the other person. Picture them somewhere safe and comfortable. Imagine that person encouraging you to feel safe, secure and comforted. What would they say? What would they do? It might sound silly but spending three minutes on this exercise can help you feel closer and more supported. Practise gratitude If you do live with your partner or your family, you might find yourselves spending lots more time together than usual, which can put extra pressure on everyone. Try this gratitude exercise, focusing on a loved one: Grab a pen and paper. Think about the person. Remember the things you’ve always loved about them. Think about what they’re doing now that you’re grateful for. Write down three things about the person that make you feel grateful. Practising gratitude can give your mood a boost [9]. Gratitude for your partner specifically can make you feel better about your relationship [10]. Learning to argue better Times of increased stress and tension can lead to more arguments at home, especially if both of you are finding it hard to cope. When you sense things getting out of hand, try to keep these basic steps in mind. STOP. When you feel an argument creeping up, pause the conversation. Agree to put it on hold until you both feel calmer. SEE IT DIFFERENTLY. Look at things from the other person’s point of view. We’re all dealing with this in our own ways and might need different kinds of support. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. Say how you feel and ask for what you need. Instead of saying, “Stop stressing me out!”, try saying, “I get worried when you read out the headlines. Can we talk about something else for a bit?” Above all, try to keep arguments away from your children. This might be harder with everyone at home but it’s much better for children to see you sorting things out in a calm and healthy way. Getting through it You might be feeling lots of different emotions, including anger, sadness, or irritation [11]. It’s all perfectly normal. Do what you can to relieve the boredom and stay in touch with friends and family. Take up a hobby, start a book group, do some exercise, give someone a call. It all helps. While all of this feels very strange and new, there’s actually lots of evidence about what it’s like for people who have to self-isolate. It may never have been done on such a wide scale, but it’s been done. People have got through it, and you can too. Share your tips Have you learned any helpful relationship tips during social distancing? Post a comment below, or  click ‘Write a post’ to share your ideas. Extra help for dealing with uncertainty and anxiety If things are getting overwhelming, these helplines can offer support with mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. Anxiety UKSupport around anxiety. Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm. Saturday to Sunday, 10am – 8pm.03444 775 774 MindInformation about mental health problems. Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.0300 123 3393 References [1] Cacioppo and Hawkley, 2003[2] Leigh-Hunt, et al., 2017[3] Goodwin, 2003[4] Hyde, Maher, and Elavsky, 2013[5] Williams and Lord, 1997[6] Adams, 1986[7] Carnelley, Bejinaru, & Otway, 2018[8] Otway, Carnelly, & Rowe, 2014[9] Davis 2016[10] Parnell, 2015[11] Brooks et al., 2020
Article | family, social media, Health
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
Community posts
"Drawn to someone with a girlfriend"
So, I just want to start by saying in no way am I trying to break up a relationship or more importantly a family. I have no plan to ever ever ever speak on how I feel and mess up anyone’s lives but, I personally just wanted to get some sort of advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation or insight on why I might feel the way I do. I met this guy about 6 years back because someone in my friend group was dating someone in his. Immediately there was an attraction ... I instantly felt like I’ve known him forever. We both are the reserved distant type so the most that ever happened was we would get drunk when the friend groups got together and flirt and kiss. We’d also always stay up all night talking but nothing ever came from it. Eventually he ended up getting a girlfriend and we all lost touch. It’s been 6 years ... and I’m scrolling through my explore on Instagram and I see a photo of him!!! I instantly felt a bunch of emotions and couldn’t stop thinking of him! (After 6 years of no contact!) I decided to add and send a message to see how it’s going. He was single so there was immediate flirting and that comfort feeling came right back to me, as if I’ve known him forever ... it just felt right! We started hanging out, and texting all the time ... things were going good. I asked him not to tell his friend group that we started talking again until we got to know each other properly (they’re kinda gossipy and I didn’t want to deal with it). He agreed and everything was good. I also told him I didn’t want anything too serious right now and I could tell that upset him but he didn’t say anything. We lasted about two months and then he randomly stopped answering me. And THEN about a week later I ran into someone from his friend group who immediately asked me to come hangout. When I did I realized he kept his word and did not tell his friends about us (so I didn’t either!) and that he now has a gf which is why he stopped answering me. They told me that he met someone on a Friday (the day he stopped answering me) and they started dating the next day, and that 1 month later they were living together and 2 months later... she was pregnant. As shocked as I was witnessing all of this happening I still felt soooo drawn to him. I see him sometimes now because of the friend group but we don’t talk. He tells his friends he doesn’t like me (I’ve still never told his friends about us) but when I see him I feel this pull to him like I want to help him and how I know we would be perfect together ... it’s the strangest thing. They’ve had their baby now and almost have been dating a year. I really thought by now I’d be over him or at least disgusted by him for dropping me like that when I did nothing. It just feels like since the day I met him I’ve felt this attachment to him and I can’t really see why. Does anyone have any tips on how I should get over him? I definitely have no intent on being with him now or even if him and his gf break up but I also don’t want to continue feeling this way for him.
User article | moving on
"I have feelings for someone else"
My boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 months. This is my first relationship and he has been through a lot of my firsts. I’m 19 and just graduated high school. Some people take this age to have fun and experience love from different people. I met this other guy at my old job that I quit. He started talking to me first when I walked past him & honestly a part of me was attracted to him that first moment and wanted to talk to him more and more. At first he just showed interest in doing sexual things but I was starting to grow a little crush and would help him out at work because I wanted to be near him. That’s all it was until I quit. He got my number the first day we met but we never actually texted. He texted me a couple days after I quit then a week later we hung out and went to the park and to eat. This guy is 22. Now about my boyfriend and us, my boyfriend just turned 18, is very sweet towards me and doesn’t mean any harm towards me. He’s the relationship kinda guy and would rather be with just one person rather than have a bunch of girls to talk to. He only wants me and forever. He accepts me for me and we have learned to be weird together. We have our inside jokes and places that we like to eat. Everything was so good the first 3 months until I met this other guy and I slowly started to pull away from him. I’ve been hanging out with this other guy more and he likes hanging with me too. This guy doesn’t really have people to hang with, he’s anti social but he let me in. He likes hearing me talk and listens to everything I have to say when I’m talking my head off. He’s also sweet towards me and so caring. I can tell he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me and he treats me as if I was his girl. We’ve talked and I admitted I had feelings or have and he said does too and that he wants me to be his girl. I have been very hurt and confused because I have a boyfriend so I feel bad and don’t know if it’s worth breaking up with him for this other guy. Especially since my boyfriend wants me for the long run no matter what and idk if this guy would even if he says he does. Yes my heart does want this other guy. He’s beginning to be cuter to me the more we hangout and I like him for him more and more. Sigh I don’t know what to do. Breaking up with my boyfriend wouldn’t be easy. I have to let go of everything we’ve done together, seeing his parents, and the side of me he brings out. But people have broken up lots of times and got through it so I know I can too if I had too.
User article | relationships, breakups
"The importance of counselling"
At one time or another we all experience difficulties that can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Issues at work, relationships worries, family pressures, finance related pressure, stress etc. They can all make us anxious and reduce our sense of purpose and wellbeing. Counselling can be helpful in lots of different situations. Talking therapy is for anyone who's going through a bad time or has emotional problems they can't sort out on their own. They may be the same or more effective than medication. Counselling can help you understand how your feelings affect your thoughts and behavior. How counselling can help Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends. During counselling, a trained counsellor or therapist listens to you and helps you find your own answers to problems, without judging you. Very often even when we speak to a trusted friend or family member we don’t always share what we are truly thinking or feeling for fear of being judged. It’s quite normal to hold information back as sometimes we are so distressed or upset by our thoughts and feelings that we don’t wish others to know them, this can be due to feelings of shame or not wishing to burden anyone else with them. Talking with a trained counsellor provides a safe space where you can vocalise how you really feel and what thoughts you have – being able to do this can enable you and the counsellor to gain some real insight into your problems and help you to deal with them. The therapist will give you time to talk, cry, shout or just think. It's an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who will respect you and your opinions. This process of unloading and sharing with another person can be very liberating. If you’ve never considered using this service, reconsider. Sometimes in life it is the things we dismiss immediately that are the most beneficial and we often wish we’d embraced sooner. Authors: Nishi Shah, Psychologist Harshita Murai, Psychologist
User article | counselling
"I'm falling for someone else"
I have been in my current relationship for 3 and a half years, I've been living with him for just over 2 years. I am ready to settle and be married and have kids but he is more interested in going out to the club and getting drunk 3 times a week. In all these years he has not shown me one but of commitment. He has never told me he loves me and if I ask him if he does love me then he says he doesn't know. My question to him is how can you not know after more than 3 years? He also never says stuff like one day when we are married or one day when we have kids. I've never had any indication of commitment from him. I have sacrificed so much for him. I left my job to move in with him and got another job which broke me, I was so passionate about teaching and then I wasn't, so I got another job working 7-5 which made me lose focus on my studies. Then when lockdown came, I lost my job and my partner became super demanding and has started treating me like a kid. There is 8 years between us. His time is limited so I know if I had to end it that I will be find because I am young (23). Anyway I've come back to my old job to do my practicles and I've met someone else. Nothing has happened between us but I feel this spark and connection. And we have the same interests, teaching kids. Any advice would be great, thanks. Basically should I end it or try make it work? I really do or did love my current boyfriend but I feel like I'm falling out of love because he hasn't shown me any commitment. He also never comforts me when I am upset, he always just says toughen up, or deal with it or you'll get over it.
User article | someone else, commitment
"Don't know what to do at this point"
I've been in a relationship with my current girlfriend for 3 years. For the most part I'm happy, we live together, and she pushes me forward in all aspects of life. In the first year of our relationship we had sex all the time and it was great. Second year in she started taking new medication for her skin and her sex drive vanished. With the lack of sex I sought to feel that similar feeling elsewhere, so I started back up on Tinder (US dating site) in hopes of feeling the similar dopamine effect. She eventually went through my phone while I was sleeping and saw that. She was hurt and felt that I had took advantage...we worked it out and are still together...I love her deeply but at the current point I'm no longer physically attracted to her...and we no longer have sex frequently. When we do it's not enjoyable and it's maybe 1x a month. I'm aware that sex isn't everything but I don't drink, or do drugs, so sex is like my stress reliver. At the writing of this post I've met another girl through my internship. I haven't done anything with her but it's very apparent that we are interested in each other. In reality I'd like to take a break from my current relationship or even break up. But my girlfriend suffers from depression and anxiety. I'm scared that if I come forward and tell her that I'm no longer interested that she will be stuck in a dark place. I'm lost - I know what's right and wrong but it just isn't that easy right now. 
User article | sex, relationships
"Caught my boyfriend seeing trans women"
I just discovered that my boyfriend of one and a half years has a secret Snapchat to buy content from trans women. There are videos of him masterbating as well as the exchange of vulgar and casual conversations. We have lived together the entirety of our relationship and after confronting him he admitted to doing this all while he is at work, he is a firefighter so he is gone for days at a time. He first claimed it to “not be cheating” because he has never touched them, which is for sure NOT how that works. He also claims that he was embarrassed to talk about being submissive because since the beginning he has always been the dominant when having sex. He has always been shy when it has come to intimacy and I am not one to pressure someone in doing what makes them uncomfortable. I figured he’d just come around when he was ready to explore. He revealed to me he liked butt play in the beginning of our relationship which I was all for it but he would always be hit or miss when I tried to do it. I am a highly sexual person but since being with him I’ve felt I needed to tone it down but now knowing he has been going behind my back to satisfy his so called “addiction” I feel pathetic. He claims that he has struggled with coming to terms with this so called “addiction” for some time now but I feel as if that is just an excuse. He also claims that it is fantasy which is a pretty text book response for someone getting caught red handed. To say how I feel is absolutely impossible to be written or described. I don’t want to even look at my own body let alone have him look and/or touch me right now. I feel so betrayed because of the lying, cheating, and the fact he clearly does not feel comfortable in confiding in me. I'm so open with him all the time but I don't know how to look past the lying and cheating. He says I’m his one and only and wants to continue to build a life with me and at some point he was going to come clean and ask for help but how am I suppose to just believe what comes out of his mouth after that? He is willing to do whatever it takes to make things right but is there some sort of justifiable truth in all of this or is he just in love with the idea of me? After reading the conversations on his Snapchat I just feel a pain that makes me feel worthless in our relationship. I would never even for the slightest second think about staying with someone who has cheated on me but he is the other half to my whole and I want so badly to believe what he is telling me now, now that it is all out in the open but my biggest thing is what if he starts doing it again? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. If anyone has advice or support I’d appreciate it.
User article | transgender, trust
"In love with someone I shouldn't be"
I need help guys, long story short I'm in a sticky situation with this man who has kids and a girlfriend. We’ve worked together for 3 years until corona came and I haven’t worked there since. But I can’t now and here’s why. We’ve always been quite flirty and there’s always been a big sexual tension which isn’t good when there’s a 18 year age gap. And a child. I'll cut it to the juicy bit - I hadn’t seen him properly in around 5 months until now. I went to this place were he worked. But my friend said he wasn’t working. Me and my friend both got very drunk, I ended up chatting to him and he said do I want a lift home (he knows where I live from picking me and dropping me from work all the time). I was completely blackout drunk but I remember I was crying and he was trying to comfort me and we ended up SNOGGING and more and things. Got a little bit too heated (p.s. I never thought this would happen because Ive always really liked him and never thought he felt the same). He dropped me back home and it's now the next day. He rang me and said are you okay and how do you feel and what do you remember? I said about the kissing and stuff - he’s bit scared as he’s got a girlfriend and doesn’t want me telling her as I was working with her the NEXT DAY!! I knew I would never say anything to her anyway but we were arguing about it all and he ended up blocking me which actually broke me. He called me 2 days after to say it's because she keeps on checking my phone. 2 months later he’s unblocked me after I’ve asked 4 times. The unblocking happened last week. I felt nervous to message but knew I wanted to and at the time I had corona so I told him and said I'm dying In 2 days as a joke and he said goodbye. Anyway I'm saying all this as this is what’s pulled us closer physically. But we're so drifted apart now as I don’t work with him and see him nearly every day, and he lives with his girlfriend so I can’t message him when I like. We used to be so close and have chats on WhatsApp about literally anything and we always had a laugh. I just wish things could go back to the way they were because I miss it and him. I've spent so many nights crying about it and wishing things were different but I'm too young to be this sad over him. But then my gut says I need to get over him because it's not going to work. But my heart says he’s my soulmate. I realised I was so much happier when he was around. If you can help me I'm stuck in a rut. 
User article | love, affair