Menu Relationship issues
Expert posts
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 move in and out of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, many of us are facing an uncertain financial future. Some people have been furloughed or lost their jobs. Some businesses have closed or lost much of their revenue. Months after the lockdown was first announced, redundancy is now the top search term on the Citizens Advice website, and their benefits advice page views are at their highest ever levels. Even in ordinary times, money troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress in relationships. More than half of couples include money worries in their top three relationship strains [1]. 60% of people who contact debt charities say they also have problems with their relationships, but they don’t necessarily seek relationship support [2].  On top of that, we’re feeling the effects of a global event that affects us in ways we can’t avoid and that aren’t our fault, which can feel unfair and unsettling [3]. When you’re struggling with money, you and your partner might have less time together and argue more. Arguments about money can be different to other types of arguments – they can last longer, are more likely to get out of hand, and can have a bigger impact on your relationship [4]. But there are practical steps you can take if you’re worried about money, from getting advice on what to do if coronavirus has affected you financially, to managing the stress together with your partner. Get some help Charities like Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service, and the National Debtline can help you figure out what benefits you can get — including coronavirus-specific relief — what to do if you can’t pay your bills or rent, and dealing with debt.  Consider seeking emotional support as well. Research has shown that relationship counselling can help people cope better with financial problems [6]. Organisations like Relate can help with telephone or webcam counselling and live chat services. Talk about money Couples who talk openly about money tend to cope better in tough times. In one study, couples who consciously worked together at finding solutions were better at maintaining their relationship through difficult financial periods. These couples made the decision to see their money problems as separate from the relationship, focusing on the importance of communicating well and working together [5]. Aside from overspending, one of the biggest money problems relationships face is appointing one partner to manage all the household finances while the other takes a back seat [6]. While this might seem simpler, it can often increase stress in relationships, creating an extra burden for the person in control [7], and leaving the other person in the dark. The couples who have the most success at dealing with their issues are those who recognise the need for trust and communication around financial matters. When you can trust each other to pay bills on time, discuss big purchases, and avoid overspending, you’re likely to feel more confident in your finances and in your relationship [5]. Make a budget Get together and write down your income and your expenses, starting with unavoidable things like housing and energy bills. If you’re not sure how to get started with a budget, you can find a free planner and some online guides through the Money Advice Service. Go through your expenses and work out where you can make cuts and savings. Can you change your energy suppliers or switch to a cheaper phone plan? Can you cut your food bills by going to a cheaper supermarket or buying things in bulk? What can you live without while money is tighter than usual? Remember that these changes might only be temporary – it can be easier to adjust when you know what you’re working towards. Take time for each other  You may have to cut back your spending, but this doesn’t mean you should stop making time for each other. During periods of lockdown, you might not have much choice about what you do, but some of these suggestions from couples might be useful as you think about the future: Look for cheaper alternatives to your preferred activities. For example, a football fan might pay for a subscription radio service as a cheaper alternative to the TV package. You can still have special meals while spending less than usual. If you're ordering in, cut the starters and sundries. Set the table and put some music on. Light a candle. Make an evening of it without spending more than you can afford. When the weather is nice, take walks in the park. Explore the open spaces in your area. Go off the beaten track a little – you might be surprised at what's available locally if you let yourself wander. Learn how to support each other well by reading our tips on coping with stress together.  Don’t delay If you’re worried about money, watch this story to see why you should act as soon as possible to deal with the issues and talk to your partner. References [1] Undy, H.,  Bloomfield, B.,  Jopling, K., Marcus, L.,  Saddington, P., &  Sholl, P. (2015). The way we are now: The state of the UK’s relationships 2015. Relate, Relationships Scotland, Marriage Care.[2] Findings from OnePlusOne interviews with major UK debt charities, further supported by Olson, G. Olson, D. National Survey of Marital Strengths, April 2003.(66% of problems in marriage are associated with ‘major debt’)[3] Dew, J.P., & Xiao, J.J. (2013) Financial Declines, Financial Behaviors, and Relationship Satisfaction during the Recession. Journal of Financial Therapy, 4(1).[4] Papp, L. M., Cummings, E. M., & Goeke ‐ Morey, M. C. (2009) For richer, for poorer: Money as a topic of marital conflict in the home. Family Relations, 58(1), 91-103[5] Skogrand, L., Johnson, A.C., Horrocks, A.M., DeFrain, J. (2011). Financial Management Practices of Couples with Great Marriages. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32: 27.[6] Doherty, H. F. (2006). Communication is vital to a couple's successful financial life. Dental Economics, 96(11), 92-93.[7] Rowlingston, K. & Joseph, R. (2009). Assets and Debts Within Couples: Ownership and Decision-Making. Friends Provident Foundation.
Article | finance, money, lockdown
Lockdown: coping with grief
When someone dies, our usual ways of coping and moving on are built around getting together with loved ones. During social distancing, we may have to adjust to new ways of dealing with grief. Funeral attendance might be limited to small numbers of close family, and distance might make it impossible to travel at all. For many people, this means not getting a chance to say goodbye. For those who can attend, it might be upsetting to see a small turnout, knowing their loved one isn’t getting the send-off they deserved. Grieving from a distance Even when you’re not able to get together physically, you can still mark the loss. If possible, attend a live stream of the funeral. Many funerals are now being filmed and streamed so mourners can watch them safely from home. Plan a memorial service. We don’t know when or how things will change but, at some point, we should be able to meet up again. Planning a service or celebration in the future can help you move forward in the present. Write down some memories of the person who has died. This can help you acknowledge the loss and reflect on what the person meant to you. Pick up the phone or arrange a video chat. You and your loved ones can share memories and offer each other support. Look for the positives. After some time has passed, you may find it easier to step back and see if anything positive has come out of the situation. Perhaps you’re connecting with friends and family in a different way or seeing how people can come together under difficult circumstances [1]. How am I supposed to feel? Right now, it can be hard to know what’s normal. There’s no set path that you’re supposed to follow after a death, but it can be comforting to know the types of things people often go through. Rather than being sad all the time, people often go back and forth between grieving and getting on with things. You might find yourself switching between moments when you feel very sad, and moments when you feel relatively normal [2]. Often, we push away difficult thoughts and feelings. We might try to convince ourselves everything is OK, even when it’s not. Sometimes, we use drugs or alcohol to try and change the way we feel. Whatever we do to push our feelings away, they will always find a way back in. It won’t always be easy, but it’s best just to let your feelings come and go – that’s how you process them and move forward [1]. Supporting each other as a couple If you’re in a relationship, you and your partner can support each other by sharing the grieving process. At the very least, talking to each other about how you’re feeling can make it easier for both of you to cope [3]. Under normal circumstances, this might mean going to the funeral together or visiting a memorial site but, when that's not possible, you can still find rituals to share from home – like lighting a candle or listening to a special piece of music. These shared experiences can help you adjust to the loss [4]. Even if you don’t live together, you could still meet up online and do something together. One thing to bear in mind, if you’re in a mixed sex couple, is that men and women often have different ways of coping. Women tend to want to surround themselves with other people and talk through memories with friends and family. Men tend to find this type of social support less useful, and may prefer to work through things alone, at least at first [4]. Of course, this won’t be true for everyone. However you and your partner deal with loss, try to be patient with each other and understand that we all have our own ways of dealing with things. Supporting someone else through grief If someone you know is dealing with grief, give them a call. You could text them to arrange a convenient time, or you could just pick up the phone and see if they answer. If it’s not a convenient time, they will let you know. If you want to do something practical, you could arrange to have something sent over. Lots of places are now well-versed in delivering food, drink, flowers, books, and other things. Think about what might help cheer the person up and send them a pleasant surprise. This will let them know you are thinking about them. References [1] Mikulincer & Florian, 1996[2] Stroebe & Schut, 1999[3] Albuquerque, Narciso, & Pereira, 2018[4] Bergstraesser, Inglin, Hornung, & Landolt, 2014
Article | lockdown, grief
Parenting in lockdown
As we face the prospect of more time in lockdown, many of us find ourselves making more adjustments and looking for new ways to cope. As a parent, you know that your children are still relying on you for support. You want to give them everything they need, but it isn’t always easy – especially when you’re dealing with your own worries. Coping together as parents Generally speaking, parents who focus on supporting each other as a couple, are more likely to be able to deal with the stresses of parenting [1]. If you can listen to each other, share the burden, and present a united front, you’ll find it gets easier to come to agreements about parenting [2]. Your children will cope better too – they’ll be less likely to feel sad or anxious, or to act out through stress [3]. Talking to children about the situation With guidelines frequently changing and the future still unclear, it can be hard to know what to tell your children about everything that’s going on. After many months of upheaval, they may even have their own ideas. With so much uncertainty and so many new developments, you might want to protect them from knowing too much. It’s natural to want to protect your children but shielding them from difficult news can actually be worse for them than just answering their questions. It’s usually best just to tell the truth. How to answer children’s questions Generally, if your child is ready to ask a question, they are ready to hear the answer. You don’t have to tell them everything – keep their age in mind, and only tell them as much as is necessary to answer their question. They can always ask a follow-up question if they want to know more. If you don’t know something, say so. There’s still a lot we’re not sure about and it’s better to be honest. If there’s something you’re not comfortable answering, you could try asking your child why they’ve asked that particular question. You could also ask them what they already know, as this can help you understand where they’re coming from. Children are reassured by the information they get from their parents, and it’s helpful for them to know they can rely on you [4] [5]. When they feel informed about what’s going on, they can get on with being kids again. Get them drawing Some younger children might find it hard to talk about their worries. Very young children often don’t have the words to describe what they’re feeling. One thing you can do to help them express themselves is to get them drawing. Grab some pens or pencils and invite them to draw something that shows how they’re feeling. Children can often find it easier to express themselves in this way [6]. A bit of fun It can be hard to find time to relax, especially if you’re trying to fit home schooling around working from home. But, if you can, try to build in some time for fun activities with the children – even it’s just playing or reading together. When you look back on all this, you might find that your role has just been to help your children stay calm and healthy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to do anything more than that. Take it a day at a time and keep looking after each other – that’s all anyone can really ask of you. References [1] Brown, 2012[2] Zemp, Milek, Cummings, & Bodenmann, 2017[3] Zemp, Bodenmann, Backes, Sutter-Stickel, & Revenson, 2016.[4] Kennedy, V. L., & Lloyd‐Williams, M., 2009[5] Osborn, T., 2007[6] Eiser & Twamley, 1999
Article | parenting together, social distancing
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 move through the phases of a global event, we have found 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 should you support each other? What if you both need support at the same time? We’re all dealing 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, 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 are finding themselves in lockdown together – some for the second or third time, and others for what feels like a constant state of being. This is still a relatively new and strange situation and is likely to require unique 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're getting 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
I can't understand
My bf of 4 years is denying me sex basically. I've been there in many hard times for him in our relationship he was incarcerated for 7 months after that was shot in the back yard of our home 8 times almost lost his life. Where since he hadn't I had to take care of him for 4 months. Yes we've had intimate moments and he gives me the out most caring and loving moments but I'm so incredibly lonely at the same time. I'm constantly arguing with him abt giving me sex. I can't understand why I love him so much. I fantasize about him just cuz he doesn't have sex with me. I've noticed when he looks at other women online he's more sexual. Is it me? Cud I not be to him sexy anymore? One time we were drinking playing pinpong in the house and I asked him to slow dance with me and he started to buy then pushed me away and said he didn't want to. That hurt so bad.. I even started to watch porn with him to make it interesting for us. But he still rejects me. I have to ask for sex. I have to get angry abt it. It hurts me so much.. Finally it's done so much damage to me that... I've gone into a serious depression abt this and I stopped caring for myself. I don't shave I don't care what I eat and even sometimes I don't shower. I just want him to want me like I want him. But I dunno what else to do, and honestly I've lost the will to try. I feel so broken. I've lost myself on the way. If he doesn't make an initiative to physically want me I may just lose it and God knows what I'll do. I've never felt this way n I need some guidance on what I should do. This is a cry for help.... this is my last resort. I need someone to save me n tell me what I shud do.....
User article | sexless, intimacy
Head over heels
Start off with, I have been with M for 19 years now but 4 years ago I found a letter to one of his exes wanting to meet up and to find out if she was the one who got away. At the same time we found out that he has stage 4 emphysema and has been living on an oxygen machine since. I felt at the time obligated to stay. Then 4 months later, I was talking to a customer, he may have been working there 6 months, not sure because I never really noticed him. I seen him outside and noticed a tat on his arm and I only had one that I would not just drop trow to show just anyone. Then he smiled and that’s when it happened, head over heels, first time in my 52 years. His coworkers would always make comments to him when I was there about me liking younger guys and other flirty things, he would just walk away and avoid me. I would come into the building other days and he would never talk to me and when he seen me, he would leave the room. Eight months later I went there one day and noticed his car wasn’t there but he wa, I noticed he was making a bee line at me and I asked him if he walked to work and his coworkers started laughing and said he didn’t and his his car down the road, he just stood there about 12” in front of me with that sexy smile. I knew then, that was my one and only shot with him but because of my situation I couldn’t do anything. I think he thinks I wasn’t interested, for the last year now his coworkers stopped the teasing but one day a couple of months ago, I was playing on Facebook and accidentally hit the relationship button on “in a domesticated relationship “ and the same day he changed his to “in a relationship “. Which he has been with this girl for 24 years and never married. I am confused and for once in my life I want to see where this can go but I am afraid he may have lost interest. What do I do?
User article | relationships, ex-partner
He claims I slept with my son
I am dating my ex whom I have a son with. We are trying again as he has claimed to be more mature in some ways that he wasn't before. And he has.....except this one area he just keeps on having an issue with. Besides our son, I have 2 other boys from a previous marriage. They are 25 and 22. In me and my ex's previous relationship, he mentioned to the counselor that he feels that I may have slept with my 22 yr old son. Sick right??? I thought so and expressed this until I was blue in the face. A little background on my ex. He grew up where his father left when he was sixteen and his mother is a drinker. Matter of fact his mother's side of the family are a bunch of drinkers and my ex has been an alcoholic a couple of times in his life. He went 10 yrs sober and something made him go back again. I was with him at that time and endured some bad stuff because of it and left him. He became sober again for a while. His last relationship before we tried again, he was involved with someone who was a drinker and weed smoker. It lasted about 6 months, but he again fell backwards. At some point, once they broke up, he got into a fight while he was drunk, and ended up being hurt. He woke up the next day in his bed, in his own piss, and dried blood from his nose and mouth. From that day forward he declared being done with alcohol. I feel that might play apart as well but let me continue. He has 2 other kids by 2 different mothers. He was never in the same household as his other kids, so he didn’t really see them grow into to who they are. So currently his relationship with his kids is a ‘see you when I see you” basis. He loves them, but they do not talk every day. He is not that close to his father, he sees when he wants to (which is better than just seeing him when he wanted money) and he talks to his mother everyday and sees her when he feels like it. ( I don’t particularly care for his mom as she is what I believe to be a functioning alcoholic.) She drinks every day, is on disability, and at one point was an enabler when he was drinking. He doesn’t see his one brother very much (who by the way screwed one of his girlfriend’s when they were younger) but will be there for him if something were to happen. So he doesn’t seem like he is that close to family. Me? My parents divorced when I was maybe 5, but my dad got married again to my stepmother. I have a close family. We are an affectionate family as well. We are not perfect but what family is. My dad has been married 3 times. My mother married a man whom we never believed appreciated her and she ended up passing away in another state far from family where he wanted them to live. My stepmom is still living and about 2 hrs away from me. Like I said I have sons. My older two and I have been close since their father and I divorced when they were 10 and 7. I have never remarried. My sons and I are very close. We talk almost every single day. And yes, I have gone through the teenage thing with them and there have been some rough patches, but we get through it. They have had some rough times and as a parent, I am there for them. Sometimes more so than I should be. Regardless, once my ex came into our lives, he seemed to embrace them. I believe his dislike of my ex-husband has spurred a lot of his not wanting me to be around my kids. My ex has trust issues. Partly because of his actions in his past relationships and partly because of the crap he has done. So he has always felt like my ex-husband wants to be with me. I couldn’t stress enough how I never wanted to be with my ex-husband enough, but my ex-boyfriend just didn’t seem to get it. He felt that anytime I had contact with my boys, my ex-husband was around the corner. I have never given him any reason to believe I wanted my ex-husband. But my ex-boyfriend just couldn’t accept the friendship my ex-husband and I had developed. When I say friendship I mean, my ex-husband’s family still accepted me as family and would send me and my 3rd son (who was from my ex-boyfriend) gifts on holidays. Ex-boyfriend hated that. Didn’t understand why they continued to do it. Another difference was that my sons were affectionate as well. They would hug or touch my arm. My ex-boyfriend hated that too. Tried to distance me and my sons through arguments. It was working until I figured out what he was doing and decided no one would come between me and my kids. Where he got the idea that I slept with my son….I do not know. I could never do that! Those are my babies! This time around, I see that he still has an issue with my one son! Only because he’s the one who is around so much. But not enough to affect my relationship. But my-boyfriend gets mad when he finds out my son is at my house. Or when he finds out that my son had to sleep on my couch as he is in between places to live. This time, I am voicing myself. My relationship with my kids has no affect on him. It doesn’t stop my attention, my time, or my affection. But he still seems to have a problem. I feel like in the end, I may just have to scrap talking to my ex and let him be. He seems to have some deep rooted issues that I can not solve (nor do I want to) and he is not willing to seek help for.
User article | parenting together, parenting apart
Thinking 'bout someone else
I'm with my boyfriend for five years now. Sometimes, I think of ending our relationship but I cannot do it. He is my first boyfriend, and I gave everything to him. Both of our parents, friends, and family accepted our relationship. However, things might change especially when you've been together for so long. I am into a new language, and one day, I met a Japanese guy online who became my language exchange partner. He is very kind, sweet and understanding. Later on, we became close friends to the point that we chat everyday, talk about what happened with each other's day, and many more. We've shared about our love life as well. It's like I found a friend and a listener in him. I'm somehow confused when he told me that I'm pretty (which I thought, Japanese people do not usually say things like that or express what they want to say.) I keep on telling myself that I am just a friend and we are just friends. However, I cannot get rid of him in my mind. I always think about him everyday. I realized that I like him when he shared about the new people he met on that language app where we met as well. He told me that he misses that one girl that he had also a chat with. I don't know, but my heart aches and my body felt so cold when I hear those words. In my head, "I am here, but he never told me that he also misses me when I'll be gone." It sounds crazy but I feel like we're connected, and he told me the same thing too. I did not told him that I like him, and I still act the same. Until one day, our everyday conversations turned into once a day reply, once a week and once every two weeks. He became so cold that I didn't know what I have done wrong so I asked him. He kept on saying lies 'cause i can feel that he is not telling the truth. I just recorded my message to him asking what happened, what have I done, are we okay, and I can't help but cry. He was so sorry for not telling me the truth that he has someone he's been talking every night, and that's a special person. So I acted like I am okay, and I understand. Our connections were still there. He barely sent me a message and I only chat him sometimes 'cause I knew I am not a priority and just a friend from far away. Right now, we are still friends for almost a year now. But I don't about myself that I keep on thinking about him even though I know, he never sees me the way that I like him. On the other side, we're okay with my boyfriend. He told me about his plan of marrying me someday, and I act happy with him despite of some problems. He cheated on me once, but I caught him just a week of talking to that girl so his affair has ended and promised not to do it again. I can't decide to be with him for the rest of our lives when he already cheated me though I accepted that mistake (but I will always remember that) and when he couldn't change that one attitude that I hate about him, and that's shouting at me whenever he gets angry. It makes me feel like I am not loved, I am like a rag and someone who's a mess when he shouted at me. I told him about that and nothing changes about the problem. And also, I can't stop thinking about that Japanese guy I met online. I am wishing that we can meet one day and let myself realize in person if that someone is just an ideal partner to be with or a perfect friend who'll be there no matter what. Right now, I want to forget about what I feel to my friend. If we will meet, that's destiny just like the way we've met on that language app. I hope you can give me a piece of advice or wisdom. Thank you everyone.
User article | someone else