Parenting through Rise-filtered glasses
As a new parent, you might find yourself cut off from some of your usual social outlets, stuck at home for long stretches of time with only the baby for company. At this time, family and friends can be more important than ever, providing support and advice to boost your confidence and help get you through the tougher days. If your friends and family live far away, or if you don’t have face-to-face access, online social media can help you and your partner feel more connected to the outside world. Emotional support and positive feedback from other parents can also be invaluable as you figure things out [1] [2]. Social media can give you access to this, but it also helps you stay in touch with old friends who keep you connected to the parts of your life outside your parenting role [3]. Beating loneliness with online social interaction Your baby is always going to be your first priority, but these other social connections are important. As humans, we need to have meaningful relationships with each other – when we disconnect socially it can affect our health, making us more stressed and more likely to get sick, and affecting our sleep and concentration [3]. Social media can help you feel less isolated but it’s important to pay attention to the way you use it. Parents who actively engage with friends on social media tend to feel less stressed and more positive about their role as parents [2] but people who just spend more time on social media without engaging tend to feel more isolated, not less [3]. The difference here is between use and interaction. We’ve all spent time staring into our phones, refreshing our social media feeds in the hope that something new will come up. But this isn’t going to help you feel more connected when you’re knee-deep in baby wipes waiting for your partner to come home. You’ve got to reach out and engage with people if you want to experience the positive effects of social media. Turning off the filters It’s also important to keep some perspective on what you see through the lens of social media. We all know that Facebook life isn’t real life, and that nobody ever looks as good as they do on Instagram, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing things through Rise-filtered glasses and believing everybody on social media is having a better time than you.  If social media is your only window into your friends’ lives, you might start thinking they are living happier, more connected lives than you [3]. Try to remember that you’re only seeing an edited glimpse of what your friends want the rest of the world to see. When your social networks start making you feel worse instead of better, take a step back and have a think about who you could reach out to for a chat. It’s the social aspect of social networks that’s valuable, so the next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through posts, send a message instead – ask for advice, vent your feelings, or just tell someone a funny story about your day. The empathy, advice and humour that you come across online can give you a life-affirming confidence boost and make you feel better about how you’re getting on as a parent [4]. You might even want to start by making a post here on Click.   References [1] Madge C., O’Connor H. (2006). Parenting gone wired: Empowerment of new mothers on the Internet? Social and Cultural Geography, 7, 199–220.[2] Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe‐Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Sullivan, J. M. (2012). New parents' Facebook use at the transition to parenthood. Family relations, 61(3), 455-469.[3] Primack, B.A. et al (2017) Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 1-8.[4] Fletcher, R., & St. George, J. (2011). Heading into fatherhood—nervously: Support for fathering from online dads. Qualitative Health Research, 21(8), 1101-1114.
Article | social media, parenting
0 6 min read
Arguing with your ex
When parents separate, the biggest damage to children is done by exposure to rows and disagreements. Developing a way of working out disagreements can protect your children and keep your stress levels to a minimum. Disagreements are a part of life Parents often have different views about what's best for their children, even when they are together. When you’ve separated, these disagreements can easily get blown out of proportion. Ask yourself how important the disagreement is. Often, the best way to deal with a difference is to look for a compromise or even just to let it go. Unresolved disagreements   When dealing with the more important issues, arrange a time and place where you can talk properly and where the children won't overhear. Emphasise your desire to work it out and do what’s best for the children and work to understand each other. Don’t try to win the argument, and don’t make assumptions about the other parent's needs and motives. Ask questions and check the facts. Language and behaviour   Be respectful. Avoid insults and blame, and don’t get drawn into the past. Focus on the future and what you can do to improve things. Keep reminding yourself that this is about the children, and that the best thing you can do is work together to sort things out. If you’re struggling to communicate with your ex-partner, you may find mediation helpful. Mediators are skilled at helping parents resolve disagreements. They may help you see things differently, so that you can reach an agreement.
Article | communication, arguments
0 2 min read
Finances: planning for the future
Although money isn’t the most romantic topic, it’s an unavoidable part of any relationship. Your financial situation as a couple differs depending on whether you are married, civil partnered, or not. Married or civil partnered couples have a legal duty to support each other but cohabiting couples don’t, even after a separation. Working out a budget can help you keep track of the money you have coming in and how much you spend. You can find a budget planner on the Money Advice Service website. Separate bank accounts If you are not married or civil partnered, you won’t be able to access money held in each other’s separate bank accounts. If one of you dies, any money in the account will not be available until the estate is settled. If you are married or civil partnered, you can only access money in your spouse’s or partner’s account with their permission. If one of you dies, the account becomes part of the inheritance and automatically goes to a spouse or civil partner, unless the will says otherwise. Joint accounts If you have a joint account, you both have the right to access the money. If one of you dies, the account immediately becomes the property of the other, even if you are not married or civil partnered. If you are the only one putting money into the joint account, the money and any purchases you make from it legally belong to you. If you have a joint bank account with your spouse or civil partner, the money - including any debts or overdrafts - is owned jointly, regardless of who has been paying money in, or taking money out. If one partner dies, the account immediately becomes the property of the other. Debts Whether you are married, in a civil partnership, or not, you are not responsible for any debts in your partner’s name, including in their separate bank account. If you do have debts, always take advice as soon as possible. You can speak to Citizens Advice or a debt counselling agency such as the National Debtline (0808 808 4000). In some circumstances, you may need to contact an insolvency practitioner. If you have a joint bank account, things may be more difficult if you are not married and not civil partnered. To close a joint account, you both need to give consent. If the account is not closed, one of you could run up an overdraft and leave the other one responsible for it. If you have a joint mortgage or rent, you are legally responsible for covering each other’s share. Real couples tell their debt stories on our debt and relationships site. Visit the site to see our short animations and expert advice. Credit cards and personal loans If a credit card is in your name, you are liable for the payments, even if your partner is a named user. If you hold the card jointly, then you are both liable. If you take out a loan with your partner, you are both responsible for repaying the borrowed amount. Taxes If you and your partner live together and are not married or civil partnered, you are treated as two separate individuals. This makes a difference to how you are taxed. Married couples and civil partners have certain advantages because they are given tax exemptions for Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax. As an unmarried or uncivil partnered couple, you may be liable for: Capital Gains Tax: This applies to the profit made when you sell or give away an asset, which can include property or possessions worth over £6,000. Everyone has an annual allowance of £11,300 (as of 2017). Beyond this allowance, if you want to transfer assets to your partner, you will be charged Capital Gains Tax if you are not married or civil partnered. Inheritance Tax: This applies to the value of an estate when the owner dies. It is charged in two bands: Assets below £325,000 are charged 0% tax and assets above £325,000 are taxed at 40% (2017). Married and civil partnered people can transfer this to a partner after they die, effectively doubling the threshold to £650,000. As a married or civil partnered couple, you can transfer assets between you without having to pay Capital Gains Tax, and inherit assets from each other without having to pay Inheritance Tax, which can be a large amount of money if a house is part of the inheritance. Although it isn’t possible to avoid these taxes completely, there are ways of arranging your assets to lessen your liability, even if you are not married and not civil partnered. You can ask an accountant or solicitor about the best way to arrange your financial affairs. Benefits and tax credits Some benefits are awarded regardless of marital status. For example, Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are not affected by marital status, income or savings. Other benefits, such as widow’s benefits, are only available to people who are married or civil partnered. Pensions Although the rules vary between pension companies, spouses or civil partners are entitled to inherit pension rights on the death of their husband, wife, or civil partner. People who live together and are not married or civil partnered are in a vulnerable position when it comes to pensions. Employers who give pensions or death-in-service payments to spouses or civil partners do not usually recognise partners who live together. But things are changing and a few pension companies have shown flexibility. The most important thing you or your partner can do is to name each other as the person you want to benefit from the policy. Useful contacts Citizens Advice – legal rights and advice HM Revenue & Customs – UK tax authority Jobcentre Plus – work-related benefits The National Insurance helpline – 0300 200 3519 Tax Credits helpline –0845 300 3900 or textphone 0845 300 3909 Child Benefit Office helpline – 0300 200 3100 Advicenow - guide on tax, benefits, and living together. Community Care - an ‘A to Z’ of benefits. The Pensions Advisory Service – free and impartial pension advice Unbiased – professional and legal advice service database The legal information on this page was checked by Langleys Solicitors, and updated in 2017.
Article | finance
How to be more independent
It might seem like making a commitment has to mean letting go of some of your independence. But, couples who retain a sense of personal independence may be quicker at resolving arguments and better able to invest in the relationship [1]. There’s something fun about merging your life with your significant other, particularly in the early stages, but it’s important to maintain the qualities that make you who you are as an individual – after all, that’s what your partner fell in love with in the first place. Having an independent streak doesn’t mean you’re afraid of commitment - people with a strong sense of personal identity can actually be better communicators. They are less defensive, more honest, and more flexible. They find it easier to be open and to put things into perspective [2]. A strong sense of individuality, then, can mean you have stronger relationships. When you and your partner support and nurture each other’s need for independence, you can start to find a balance that means you’re also happier and more confident in the relationship [3]. If you’d like to reclaim a bit of independence as a way of strengthening your relationship, you might want to try the following tips. 1. Spend some time alone   Alone time gives you a chance to recharge and refresh. We all need a bit of solitude and it’s easy to forget this when we get into relationships. Spend some time reading, or catching up on emails, or just watching something your partner might not be into. It’s also important to keep in touch with your friends, and do some of the things you did when you were single. If you’ve got a group of friends you used to hang out with, give them a call and arrange something. An evening away from your partner will broaden your experiences and give you more to talk about when you next see each other. 2. Keep your online lives separate   Social media plays a big part in how we present ourselves to the world, and how we interact with our friends and families. Being in a relationship can mean our online lives also intermingle with our real lives. For some couples, declaring your love online can make you feel closer and more connected. For others, however, it can feel like a bit of a threat to privacy and independence, knowing that a partner can check up on what we’re doing and who we’re talking to [4]. Don’t go snooping, or trying to work out who they’ve been chatting to – maybe even disconnect your profiles, or mute your partner’s feed. Give each other some online space as well as real space. 3. Plan your own future   Life is full of big decisions. Your decisions around what to do with your life – like where to study, and where to work - may be influenced by many factors, including what you can afford. If you are in a long-term relationship, you may need consider whether to factor your partner into those decisions [3]. Co-ordinating our life plans with those of our partner can mean having to be flexible and make a few compromises, so think carefully about what’s most important to you and make sure your decisions suit you as an individual as well as you as a couple. These days, many people are choosing to wait until a bit later in life before settling into long-term relationships [3]. This can provide an opportunity to figure out what you want as an individual before making decisions about what you want from your romantic relationship. 4. Try living apart together   One - possibly extreme - solution to the issue of combining a committed relationship with personal independence is the increasingly popular practice of living apart together. Couples are described as living apart together when they are in a monogamous relationship but have chosen to maintain separate homes [5]. For many younger adults, living apart together might be a necessity, based on working or studying arrangements, or finances [6], but it could also be an attractive option for couples who want to be together while enjoying their own independence. Living apart together means you can have more control over your daily life, your home arrangements, and even your finances. If these are the kinds of things you tend to argue about, then living apart together might also reduce the risk of conflict in your relationship [6]. You don’t necessarily have to go as far as living apart together but, if you’re the kind of person who falls in deep, you might want to take a moment to remind yourself who you are outside of your relationship with your partner, and to support your partner in doing the same. It might just help you get along a little better with one another. References [1] Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68. [2] Hodgins, H. S., & Knee, C. R. (2002). The integrating self and conscious experience. Handbook of self-determination research, 87-100. [3] Shulman, S., & Connolly, J. (2013). The challenge of romantic relationships in emerging adulthood reconceptualization of the field. Emerging Adulthood,1(1), 27-39. [4] Fox, J., Osborn, J. L., & Warber, K. M. (2014). Relational dialectics and social networking sites: The role of Facebook in romantic relationship escalation, maintenance, conflict, and dissolution. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 527-534. [5] Levin, I. (2004). Living apart together: A new family form. Current sociology,52(2), 223-240. [6] Benson, J. J., & Coleman, M. (2016). Older Adults Developing a Preference for Living Apart Together. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78(3), 797-812.
Article | communication, independence
0 5 min read
Long distance: moving closer together
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you probably already have some ingenious ideas for making things work with your partner. But have you started preparing for the time when you move closer together? Chances are you aren’t planning for your relationship to be permanently long-distance. You may already be looking ahead to a time when you and your partner will be able to live in the same town, or even the same home. And, while that anticipation might be exciting, there’s a lurking danger that things might not go as smoothly as you hope. Rather than feeling more secure, many long-distance couples face greater instability when they move closer together. In fact, the longer they spend apart, the more likely they are to feel unstable, or even break up, when they get back together. One study showed that 82% of couples broke up when they moved closer together [3]. However, all is not lost. Having managed the long-distance situation, it’s likely you already have a good idea of what makes a relationship strong and happy. Couples in long-distance relationships often report having similar or even better relationship satisfaction to those in geographically close relationships [1]. Many long-distance couples also report having higher levels of trust and, thanks to the availability of video calls and instant messaging, are happier with the way they communicate with their partners [2] [3]. All of this, however, runs the risk of creating unrealistic expectations of how the relationship will be when it is no longer long-distance. Couples who only get to see each other on the occasional weekend tend to idealise each other and romanticise the relationship. When you live far apart, it is much easier to present the best side of yourself and keep your unpleasant habits and grumpy morning face out of sight of your partner [3]. One of the reasons it can be tough getting back together is that the non-idealised versions of yourselves suddenly have to get to know each other. Any transitional point in a relationship can be difficult to navigate, and switching from a long-distance relationship to a geographically-close one is no different. If you’ve talked about living together, try living separately at first, and adjust to being in the same town before you share a home. Moving in together can present challenges for any couple, so if you’re accustomed to being apart from one another, it’s worth paying attention to how you manage the change. Many of your routines and behaviours will be different, including sex. Increased availability may run the risk of making things feel less special or important. Talk to each other about what you want and figure out together how it’s going to work for you. Try not to put too much pressure on yourselves for everything to be perfect. Focus on the positives and enjoy the fact that you can do things together that you couldn’t before. One of you may also be adjusting to living in a new town, which can be stressful in itself. If you’re the one who has moved, give yourself some time to discover your own things, rather than just falling into your partner’s routine. If your partner has moved closer to you, join in with their exploration by finding new places together that neither of you has been to before. Give each other a bit of space so you can still be yourselves. Accept that it is a period of adjustment and take things slowly, particularly in the first few months. Talk to each other about what you both want from the relationship, and then work slowly towards your shared goal, allowing it to unfold slowly and naturally. It may be a shock to the system, but the more openly you communicate about the changes, the easier you’ll find it to deal with the change together and come out smiling on the other side.   References [1] Dargie, E., Blair, K., Goldfinger, C., & Pukall, C. (2013). Go Long! Predictors of Positive Relationship Outcomes in Long Distance Dating Relationships. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2013.864367 [2] Crystal Jiang, L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal of Communication, 63(3), 556–577 [3] Stafford, L., & Merolla, A. J. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(1), 37–54 [4] Lydon, J., Pierce, T., & O’Regan, S. (1997). Coping with moral commitment to long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), 104–113
Article | long distance
0 8 min read
Is debt keeping you in an unhappy relationship?
Nearly a fifth of people have stayed in a relationship because of financial difficulties, according to a survey of 2,000 Brits. The Debt Advisory Centre, a provider of debt help, carried out the survey to find out how many people remain in relationships simply because they don’t feel they can afford to break up. Nearly one fifth of respondents (18.9%) reported having been in this difficult situation at one time or another, stuck between ending a relationship and facing up to the financial realities of separation. Of these, two fifths (42.85%) had found themselves staying in struggling relationships for over a year, and nearly a quarter (24.33%) had limped beyond the three-year mark in relationships they knew weren’t working. Those living in London were most likely to have stayed with a partner because of financial worries, with a third of Londoners professing to have found themselves in this situation at some point. The age group most prone to this situation is 25-34, which coincides with the age many people are seeking to get on the property ladder and start a family. Penny Mansfield, Director of OnePlusOne, says: “The stress and worry of debt can affect how you get on with your partner so it’s important to be sure in your own mind whether the relationship is over or if it’s just a bad time in your relationship that could pass. “If you are thinking of sharing a home with your partner because it seems more affordable, think twice. Breaking up is rarely easy but it can be even more difficult when you are financially involved with each other”. Have you ever found yourself staying with someone because you’re worried about the financial impact of a breakup? If you’re struggling with your finances, you can find other people's stories and helpful advice on our debt pages.
Article | debt, finance
The importance of small gestures
Small gestures like unexpected gifts and surprise cups of tea can make a big difference to your relationship. A major study conducted by The Open University and published in 2013 [1] discovered that deceptively simple actions such as saying ‘thank you’ to your partner, touching base during the day with a text message or even just bringing your partner a cup of tea in bed could be the foundations of a long and successful relationship. The study conducted an online survey which had over 5,000 respondents and 50 in-depth interviews. As part of the survey, people were asked to answer questions such as “What two things do you like best about your relationship?”. The results were clear: what people valued most from their partner are small everyday words, gestures and actions. Very few respondents said that their happiness depended on grand romantic gestures like being whisked away on a luxury holiday. Although some people mentioned typical gifts like flowers and chocolates, most emphasised the thoughtfulness of the way the gift was presented and its meaning to them individually, rather than just being touched by the gift itself. For example, picking up a box of your partner’s favourite chocolates from a shop she loves but can never get to is likely to be more meaningful than a box of standard chocolates from the supermarket. So many people wrote that they feel appreciated when their partner makes them a cup of tea that the researchers had to give this very British gesture its own category. They noted that such a “high level of agreement” across over 10,000 different responses was “remarkable”. But the gesture most highly valued was gratitude. Simply thanking your partner for something they have done, whether that’s household chores, giving you a lift, childcare or any other simple task, was the most important thing for all participants of the survey, regardless of age, gender, sexuality and whether or not they were parents. The report says that the most important thing anyone can do in a relationship is to recognise the “time and effort required to complete the everyday, mundane tasks which underpin relationships and smooth running of a household”. If your partner does a lot of chores around the house, then letting them know how much you appreciate this might be a good place to start. With 200,000 to 250,000 couples separating each year [2], this advice might be especially important to married parents. The research suggested that parents are the least likely to make time for each other or for ‘couple time’, to pause each day to say ‘I love you’ or perform any of the small gestures mentioned which add up to the ‘relationship work’ that keeps you close and in love. Communication is often flagged as a major part of keeping a relationship going, and we talk about it regularly on this site. But communication doesn’t have to mean lengthy emotional discussions. Simple emails and texts during the day, sharing something funny you saw, or taking two minutes to send a quick ‘I love you’ text can brighten your partner’s day and keep you bonded throughout the hustle and bustle of your lives outside the home. Being able to share things with your partner, talking openly, and feeling supported with your problems are also an important part of good communication. If you’re looking for a few ideas on little things to remember, below is a list of the top answers for what makes people feel appreciated by their partner:  What does your partner do that makes you feel appreciated?   Says thank you and/or gives me compliments.  Gives me cards, gifts, flowers etc. Does/shares the household chores and/or childcare. Talks with me and listens to me. Is physically affectionate. Says and/or shows s/he loves me. Cooks some/all of our meals. Makes kind and thoughtful gestures.  Makes me tea, coffee and/or breakfast in bed. Supports and looks after me. Is always there for me. Values me and respects my opinions. Makes time to be together, as a couple. Supports my personal interests/career. Sexual intimacy. These little things mean a lot. You might want to put some reminders in your phone or diary to make ‘couple time’ or do something special for your partner once in a while – what that ‘something special’ is will be different for each person. The uniqueness and specialness of the gesture is just as important as the act of performing it. And if you aren’t sure, why not just ask? Care and loving attention like that is the sort of thing that good quality relationships are built on. What does your partner do that makes you feel special? Tell us in the comments below. References [1] http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/enduringlove/sites/www.open.ac.uk.researchprojects.enduringlove/files/files/ecms/web-content/Final-Enduring-Love-Survey-Report.pdf [2] Coleman, L., & Glenn, F. (2009). When Couples Part. London: OnePlusOne Publications 
Article | communication
“Broke up my ex, now I want him back”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   So I have been dating my current ex now for a short period of 2 months and it was long distance. We were hooked up by close friends in hopes of finding a lifetime partner. My understanding of that was that, we were both searching for marriage type of commitment. Within the first month of our courtship, he mentioned he wanted to be exclusive. I was happy to hear that. The following month, he asked me to be his girlfriend. Immediately after, that we broke up. I called things off because I stumbled upon a message from another woman pouring out her heart to him the first month we were together. I thought nothing of it because our relationship was something still very new. Maybe he hadn't quite figured out what to do about that situation yet. I figured that eventually he would dismiss it since he didn't seem to be paying much attention to her. When he came to visit me, I noticed that the same person was still messaging him. As opposed to confronting him right away, I asked for his phone (never ever again!). He kept saying it wasn't an issue to see his phone but when he noticed how serious I was about seeing his phone, he changed his tone. I ended up dropping him off at the airport in a rude way and broke things off. Within 24 hours, he called to apologise for not allowing me see his phone but I wasn't having that apology because he was apologising for the wrong thing. After a few calls back and forth, he finally came clean about the other woman. I was willing to overlook simply because it was a new relationship, sometimes people have it harder letting go of their past. (At least that was my thought). After he came clean, he disappeared on me. He barely called and now he's completely stopped calling. I've reached out to him multiple times. He finally called me two weeks later after we broke up to say I wanted the apology in my own words. I tried to reason with him but whenever I tried, he shunned the conversation. I eventually told myself to stop calling him. He reached out to me a few days back but I was playing hard-to-get. I tried calling him the following day, we spoke briefly but he had to go stating he'd call back which he never did. It's been a month since we broke up and its been 3 days since we've had any dialogue with each other. What do i do? I can't stop thinking about him.
Ask the community | saving it, trust