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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
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
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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
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11 Years of marriage at breaking point!
Okay - so this is wierd. Firstly I am a man and dont think they are too common on this site - could be wrong but of all the comments I have seen on here they seem to be from females - but I would welcome a female perspective if I try and give as balanced a view as possible without giving too much away. I'm not sure where to start so am a little lost...... So, married for 11 years, two children, live in a lovely house very close to my sister in law and parents in law - so all three houses are close together. We went through a number of goes at pregnancy and were lucky enough to have twins. My Wife would like to have four children but I dont think this is going to happen as I dont want to try and bring more children into a relationship that is already fragile - she holds this against me - but it just doesnt seem right. She really really really wants more children to the point where she gets really upset when 'School mums' fall unexpectedly pregnant' - I kind of say that we need to be greatful for what we have? I work full time, Wife doesnt work at all - full time stay at home mum. I am really happy that I can provide for the family so she doesnt have to work but feel that she can take this for granted - I work in a pretty stressful job and also supplement my income with another company to make sure we have everything covered. We seem to live two seperate lives, even in lock down - she stays up with the kids very late watching TV and gets up very late as well. Mean while I hit the sack at 10ish and up at 7.30ish having breakfast on my own etc etc. We dont do ANYTHING together. I have been sleeping in a seperate bed for three years - couple of reasons - we had a big arguement years ago but also I am over weight and so snore - I'm constantly trying to lose weight but very difficult - having a good go at it at the moment. Because we live so close to the family and the way she smoothers the children we dont get anytime together - My wife has been away from the children One night in 8 years (is this normal?) - unfortunately I have been de-prioritsed over the years and feel like its the following order: Kids -> Dog -> Cat -> Hamsters/Goldfish (cant break those two apart) I effectively live in a house that I pay for lock stock as well as fund a rather exceptional life style for my wife which I think she takes for granted - I feel guilty because she does all the ironing and most of the cleaning - maybe I need to do more but just want to crash after a days work. I am on the brink of moving out but such a big decsion, how will the kids take it? Where will I go? The relationship is toxic - we are like two chemicals that are absolutely wonderful in isolation but put them together and you start to get a bad reaction. There is NO intermacy (spelling?), no kissing, no hand holding, I mean its as dead as a dodo! What to do? I'm going to stop now but would welcome views from the other side of the fence as honest as possible - if you have questions I'll try and answer them as well.
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Confused between two boys
I was in a relationship with my boyfriend for two years . I loved him . It was a nice relationship I felt happy with him , safe , calm . We would have arguments in which he would say a lot of things in anger on top of which he would never apologise first . After I confronted him and told him that he was wrong then he would realise and felt bad for it . After an year , I met another boy at a college event . We immediately clicked . We had this strange eye contact . I was nervous around him and he could make me smile . My boyfriend got very insecure about him . In fact I might admit I had a crush on him . I always wanted to be around him . This kept going for another year . The other boy (let’s say Sam )and I became really close friends. My boyfriend and I had a lot of fights over him but it was only friendship between Sam and me . I will admit that I always had a crush on him and I would text him a lot . I wanted to tell him every detail about my life . I starting thinking of same while listening to music or watching movies . Then one day my boyfriend and I had an argument, we were already having fights from 3-4 months and we broke up , after that I only spent my time with Sam . As my boyfriend never used to try to come back he didn’t try this time either but earlier I would . Since I was hanging out with sam this time I didn’t try hard enough . After a month , Sam and I kissed . I decided that I will move on and get along with sam but whenever I would see my ex . I would drift away from sam. It was like how I felt for sam while I was in a relationship. For 3 months I tried to move on and forget all about my relationship but since it was too soon and too much history it would come back as flashes and I would drift away from sam This inconsistency was hurting him so I decided to end things with Sam . Earlier I told him to wait for me but today I asked him to move on because the thought that what if I am unable to move on and I go back to my ex I wouldn’t want sam to be waiting . I have feelings for both of them . When I am with one of them I forget about the other one but when I am away I constantly think about the one I don’t have . It’s like I am confused between them both . Although my ex and I have broken up and sam wants to move on but I still believe I have one more shot to make things right . I have hurt my ex over sam and sam over my ex . Now I want to make the right decision without the distraction of talking to any of the two . Really think about who do I actually want and stick to one . Sam makes me laugh , compliments me gives me butterflies but my ex made me feel content , calm, happy too.
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“My boyfriend and his best friend”
I want to share this because I have no one to talk to about my concerns! My boyfriend and I have been together for almost seven years. We met in high school and have faced many challenges in our relationship like long-distance while I was in college and currently we are not living together. About three years ago, my boyfriend’s “God-Sister” and best friend moved back to the area. They became pretty close and at the beginning, the three of us would do things together. During the last year, he began spending more time with her and less with me. He would say that it was because she lived so close and I lived 30 minutes away. She would cook for him, drive him places, and they basically hung out every day whereas I only saw him on weekends. A couple of months ago, I found out that he cheated on me with her (I found proof, a month after it occurred). I confronted him and he insisted that it was a one-time, drunken mistake and did not go further. I also found out that he spent WAY more time with this girl than I had originally known. We broke up for about a month, but he was persistent and continued to tell me that it was a mistake and it would never happen again. Ultimately, I gave him another chance because people make mistakes and we had been together for so long. I did not want to be controlling and say he could not be friends with the girl, but I also did not want him to have the same opportunities as before. He promised me that they would not be hanging out, or talking, like they were before but they would be friends and he would be more transparent and open with me to build back trust. As time moved on, he continued to text her daily and she would dog sit during the week while he was at work. Each time I brought her up, he would get upset and say he didn’t want to keep talking about her. I have tried to explain that I am uncomfortable with them being friends because I am excluded from their relationship (ie there is never times where we will be around each other because he does not want drama, his family sees her but only when I’m not there). A little while ago, I had this gut feeling that he was lying to me about being at work and I ended up driving to her house to see if he was there. He was. So, I called him to give him an opportunity to tell me the truth and he said he was elsewhere. I ultimately confronted him again. He stated that the only reason he lied was because he didn’t want me mad, but he did not cheat. Ever since, I have struggled with trust issues. I have asked him to turn on his location and he refuses. About a week ago, he calls me to admit that he is cutting ties with his friend and that he has once again been lying about the friendship. For the last little while, he has been refusing to see me (blaming it on Coronavirus) but has been hanging out with her and not telling me. His family is aware and has not told me. I have been trying to move past it, but even now he states that he still wants to be friends with her. If I ask him if she has talked to him, he gets upset because he doesn’t want to talk about her. In addition, throughout the cheating and now, she has openly admitted that she has feelings for him, she thinks she does more for him than me, and was manipulating him into staying away from me. He will not allow me to confront her because he does not want drama with her or her/her family to threaten me. However, he still wants to be cordial with her. I know that it will begin like this but they will eventually continue to hang out. He has insisted that he will be honest with me moving forward, but I do not believe him. He does not understand my frustrations and is not willing to acknowledge that their relationship is disrespectful to me. I believe that he has feelings for her that he is unwilling to admit to himself, I do not know how to move forward and I just need advice.
User article | cheating, social distancing
“My boyfriend is cheating on me”
Me and my bf are going to complete one year of our relationship this June. The thing from the starting of our relationship he had told me that he is friendly with girls and there is nothing to worry about. The only thing which bugged me in starting was him being connected to his exes. Two or three months back we had a fight and I told him that being connected to your ex means there is still a chance for her or you may have feelings for her but he called me "dumb" and said that "as you have studied in all girls school and university you don't know how things work, a boy can be connected to his ex, wish her happy b'day, or things like that, it does not mean he is interested in her." He was very defensive about this so I did not drag that matter. After some months he accused me of cheating on him because I was online at 3am but I was chatting with my female friend as my boyfriend had stopped giving me his time. In lockdown, he calls once a week and we chat on whatsapp for about one hour in a whole day. He was starting to behave too weird for me as he would say he is going to sleep but his internet would be on or he would be chatting with other people except me. One day I opened his Facebook and Instagram (he has not given me his ID, I just saw him type his password so I remembered it) and I found that he was cheating on me with that girl in Facebook and Instagram. I found out that he has messaged his ex that he loves her a lot and would like to meet her. The thing is somehow I cannot just cannot believe this. It's been two months since I know this and daily I feel pathetic. I don't even have the guts to confront this. This is my first relationship. I tried everything. I even said sorry for each and everything I didn't even do. I begged him thousands of times whenever he used to get angry, but now I feel like I have nothing left. I am 23 and my bf is if the same age.
User article | cheating, affair
“Husband doesn't care about sex”
My husband says he doesn't care about sex, and how he could care less about it. He's got a low sex drive etc. However his Google history says otherwise - it's all pornhub. I'm the one who always starts it, at least 90 percent of the time. I've suggested all kinds of things to spice things up because it's the same every time. Basically there's very little foreplay unless it's me to him. In the winter time he was home so I took control and just started doing it and trying to not care. Well than I saw that if we didn't do anything, if I didn't start it, he'd wait literally till I walked out the door, then it was right to pornhub. Like if he's horny why not just say something? Like not once has he ever just tried to please me with nothing in return unless again I'm in the middle of my own time on my own, then sometimes he will. Usually he comes in, gets his phone and leaves and goes on his way. I'm not sure if it's worth mentioning but I've had a big weight loss and I'm not sure if it's me getting in my head or not. But I'm starting to wonder if he's just not sexually attracted to me anymore? I'm not sure what to think or do or is it normal I'd say up until xmas it was 2-3 months in between. Since xmas it was almost every other day when I took control since I had enough of months in between, but again I got tired of being the only one to say anything. And yes he does knows it bugs me and here we are still. I should add the only one day I can count he will start it is valentine day which makes me even more mad. But, as I said above, in the winter I took over and it wasn't to bad. I bought us a sexy game and stuff. We never have played it and when I took it out to play he's like meh and put it away and we just did usual sex.
User article | pornography
“Boyfriend watches porn”
Me and my current boyfriend haven't been dating so long as some of the others (barely six months). Since the coronavirus, I have been staying with him since we are long distance. Our sex life was great at the beginning and stayed that way until about a month of me staying at his home. He says often that his stomach hurts, he's tired, or we can have sex later (I initiate it most of the time). However, later hardly ever comes. I am a very sexually driven person and our chemistry was great in the beginning, which I expected to calm down but not completely deteriorate. He hardly ever seems attracted to me but assures me I'm the most attractive person he has ever met. I believe him for the most part so I take care of things on my own. We discussed this a few weeks ago and now I have found porn and video-chat websites on his devices. I don't know exactly how to handle this. It's so frustrating and hurtful because I know he is a very sexual person (he's quite attractive and has had many flings with other females). I don't want to confront him with anger, but whatever I have approached him with lately he deflects. He's very independent, so being with him is hard sometimes and leaves me feeling lonely. His passion comes around once in a while now whereas he was so hungry for it. But if he is in the mood why doesn't he just initiate? I have tried countless times and rejection from him doesn't bode well with me so I let him lead it for the most part. I just don't understand what he is thinking. Is porn better than our sex?
User article | sexless, pornography