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Building and maintaining trust
Trusting your partner isn’t always easy. Sometimes feelings of distrust can be a useful sign that something isn’t quite right in your relationship. However, if you’re not sure why you are feeling distrust, or notice it’s becoming a pattern in your relationships, it can help to learn why and what you can do about it. Importance of trust in relationships Trust is confidence that you will find what you desire from your partner rather than what you fear. It means feeling comfortable being close to your partner and having a low fear of rejection. It is one of the most important ingredients of a healthy and stable romantic relationship [1]. The impact of a lack of trust Negative emotions and interactions are a normal part of a romantic relationship – in fact it has been found to be essential in a healthy relationship, with the golden ratio being around five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. That said, too much negativity in a relationship can lead to emotional instability, conflict, and ultimately a decision to break up [2]. What can cause distrust in a relationship? There’s no simple answer to what causes distrust but many things can contribute to how we function in adult relationships. Let’s talk about one of them. In the 1980s, a famous psychologist called Bowlby came up with a theory that is still relevant today. This is called attachment theory. Bowlby said that we are born wanting to be close to other people. He said that interactions with people we are close to when we are little can shape our opinion of ourselves, and our adult relationships [3]. For example, if your mum was going through a hard time when you were a baby and wasn’t able to give you as much attention as you needed, you may feel more distrust towards your partner as an adult. This could be because you have learned to expect that you can’t rely on the people close to you to provide you with what you need. This natural instinct of self-protection may have been helpful when you were little but could be less helpful in your adult relationships. Learning this may be frustrating and it might seem unfair to be paying the price for something we had no control over. However, research shows that you can learn skills to help know how to address feelings of distrust. Using Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) to tackle feelings of distrust Improving and maintaining trust takes persistence and practice. One way to tackle relational issues is through using Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) techniques. DBT is a well-researched and effective therapy, developed to help people improve their relational skills, and change deeply ingrained habits. Below are three DBT skills you can try today to help improve and maintain trust in your relationship [4]. Three DBT skills to help deal with feelings of distrust: Observe skill When there is a lack of trust in your relationship, it can be upsetting and confusing. Recognising and identifying individual thoughts can help bring some clarity, then we can address them specifically if needed, by using other skills. It can help to set a timer to help practice this skill. Something like 1-2 minutes. Take a moment to observe your thoughts and feelings. Breathe. When a thought comes up, notice it. Is it a judgement? What is the subject? After identifying the thought, bring your attention back to your breathing and allow your thoughts to keep moving through your mind. Many thoughts may come up in 1-2 minutes or maybe just one or two. Check the facts skill We have lots of thoughts throughout the day. Distrustful thoughts can be distressing, and they may stick around for longer or be more prominent in our minds. If you find yourself thinking a specific distrustful thought, it can be helpful to check out how valid it is. Following a procedure to check the facts can help you do just that. Sit down with a pen and paper or do this in your head – whichever is most helpful to you. Ask yourself: What is the emotion I am feeling right now? What is the event prompting my emotion? (Describe the facts of the situation and avoid making judgements or black and white thinking). What are my interpretations, thoughts, and assumptions about the event? Am I assuming a threat? (Think of the likelihood of the catastrophe occurring, imagine coping well with it) Does my emotion fit the facts? After doing this exercise, you may have a better idea of whether or not your emotion is because of something your partner has done, and act accordingly. GIVE skill If you want to build a more trusting and positive relationship dynamic, it can help to empathise with your partner by using the GIVE skill. GIVE is an acronym. G – be gentle and respectful in your communication. When you are angry use words to describe how you feel calmly, without raising your voice. Avoid doing things like rolling your eyes or exaggerating to make your point.I – Show interest in your partner and what they say, face your partner, listen to their point of view, be patient, and don’t interrupt them.V – Validate your partner’s feelings by offering support and understanding.E – Use an easy manner. A little humour and light heartedness can help. What does improving and maintaining trust look like? After practising these skills for a while, you may find yourself having a clearer idea of what is upsetting you. You may notice that you feel calmer and have fewer negative interactions with your partner. Give them a go and remember that seeing an improvement in your relationship takes persistence and practice. By Helen Molloy References [1] Kleinert et al., 2020[2] Gottman & Levenson, 1992[3] Bowlby 1982[4] Linehan, 2015
Article | trust, jealousy
Six tips on introducing new partners
What happens when you or your ex meet someone new and want to introduce them to your children? This is often a difficult transition but it’s likely to happen at some point, and it will require a lot of self-awareness and control. It’s natural for this next step in your co-parenting journey to feel daunting or overwhelming and for feelings of insecurity or anxiety to arise. We’ll discuss a few tips from people who have ‘been there and done that’ to help you to navigate this new chapter. Six tips for introducing new partners to your children 1. Keep your ex in the loop and communicate openly with them Where possible, discuss introducing new partners to your children with your ex before it happens. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if they introduced someone to your children without knowing? In a co-operative parenting relationship, it’s important that you both have a say and know what’s happening, even though there is little that you or they can do to prevent it. This leads us on to our next tip… 2. Understand you can’t prevent it from happening It’s natural to feel protective over your children but, unless there are danger signs, there’s not much you or your ex can do to prevent a new partner from being introduced at some point. Successful co-parenting relationships all have one thing in common – you both accept that you can’t control everything. It’s OK to request that you meet the new partner before they are introduced to your kids but if that isn’t possible, try to trust that your ex wouldn’t introduce the children to anyone unsuitable. Accepting that you have no say over each other’s new partners can be hard. 3. Establish boundaries sooner rather than later While you can’t stop new partners from being introduced to your kids, it’s important to have an open dialogue to establish boundaries. Let your ex know what you are and aren’t comfortable with and vice versa. Having these conversations prior to the situation happening will help to ease any emotional reactions in the moment. You could even build them into your parenting plan at the point of separating. Being clear and transparent with each other will help grow your co-parenting relationship and set the foundations of your blended family off on the right foot. 4. Don’t talk to your children negatively about your ex’s new partner It’s natural for negative feelings to arise when your ex introduces a new partner, but don’t share these feelings with your kids. Use other support networks like close friends and family and make sure you do it out of earshot from the children. Your children don’t need to know if you dislike the new adult in their life and belittling them in front of the kids won’t help you in the long run. Try and look at this new person as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. You are not being replaced, but rather providing your children with another adult who may become a source of love and guidance in the future. If you can work together, your children may well come to benefit from the experience. 5. Keep busy when your kids are with your ex and their new partner It may be difficult knowing your kids are with someone else, and you may feel lonely or jealous when they are away from you. You can mitigate these feelings by keeping busy or using this time for some self-care. Do something or see people that you wouldn’t normally have time to do or see.  6. Use communication tools for co-parenting There are many helpful co-parenting tools at your disposal, like the amicable co-parenting app. The app helps you to define and communicate your boundaries, schedule shared events to avoid confusion and conflict, and message your ex securely through the messaging function. All the tools were created to help avoid tension and miscommunication that may arise during very common co-parenting milestones like introducing new partners. We hope the above tips help you navigate co-parenting when new partners are introduced. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | new partner, parenting apart, co-parenting
Eight tips to communicate with your ex
When you separate from your ex and have children together, your relationship isn’t over, it’s changed. You may not be romantically tied to each other anymore but you will remain in each other’s lives – learning how to get on and transition from parents to co-parents is a big shift for many couples. Getting it right isn’t easy, but it is worth it and will save you all a lot of hassle and headaches. Here are some tips on how to set things off on the right foot. 1. Create a parenting plan Creating a parenting plan is a game-changer. A parenting plan can help you to record the decisions you’ve made about how and where the children will live, and what your parenting boundaries are. It’s also a great way to pre-empt any issues that may arise in the future. A parenting plan isn’t a legal document and it isn’t set in stone as your children’s ages and stages will change over time. But it is a helpful, structured way of establishing a co-operative parenting relationship. You may be able to work through the process together by using a parenting plan template or you may need to seek support from a co-parenting coach who can help you work through the trickier sections such as shared care arrangements and who pays for what. 2. Accept that It’s OK to have different parenting styles Don’t be put off if you and your ex have different parenting styles. This is not the end of the world and doesn’t need to come in the way of co-operative parenting. You just need to be able to work around it and stick to a plan which enables you to practice both your parenting styles. 3. Don’t sweat the small stuff Give each other time to adjust to your new roles and prepare for when things don’t go to plan. It’s OK to get things wrong, and if you cut your ex some slack, they will likely do the same for you. This is new for both of you and will take time some to get used to but you can be sure of one thing – it’s not going to always go to plan, and that’s OK. If you’re flexible and understanding with your child’s other parent, it’s likely that they will reciprocate. If you’re not willing to be flexible, this may cause tension and result in arguments and won’t benefit any of you. 4. Support your child’s relationship with their other parent It’s important to support your child’s relationship with their other parent. This includes encouraging them to communicate when they are with you. This could be in many forms such as calls, texts, or emails etc. Supporting your ex and cultivating an environment of openness where your children feel they can communicate with both of you will ease the change for them. 5. Keep your child’s other parent in the loop It’s important to keep the other parent in the loop where possible. This doesn’t need to be constant communication; you can just touch base when appropriate. Plan ahead so they aren’t blindsided by things that could have been avoided if you had communicated them earlier. Tools such as the amicable co-parenting app can help with this. 6. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your kids You and your ex might not be each other’s biggest fan but it’s important to avoid vocalising any negative feelings in front of your children. This can make your children feel like they have to pick sides and may affect their relationship with the other parent. If you do slip up, address it by saying something like “I’m sorry I spoke about your mum/dad like that, I was just cross and I shouldn’t have said that in front of you.” 7. Look for the positives If you always assume the worst about your ex and the things they do, it will likely lead to negative communication. Instead, try and gather all the facts before accusing them of anything and look at the positives in situations. If you lead by example, you will find that your children are better off because of it. 8. Communicate as if your ex is a business contact Keep communication short and sweet, especially over messages. Keep to the point and remove any ‘emotional messaging’. If you’re angry, wait until you have calmed down, read your message again and ask yourself if you’d be happy to send it to a business colleague before pressing send. The amicable co-parenting app The amicable co-parenting app enables you to communicate with your child’s other parent in one secure place. The shared calendar helps you to stay organised and includes shared care schedules, one-off and recurring events for each child. The goals section helps you to define and communicate your boundaries and the messaging function stores all your co-parenting communication in one secure place. Try the app for free for 30 days to see if it can help improve your co-parenting relationship. After the free trial, the app is £9.99 a month or £99.99 for the year. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | parenting apart, co-parenting, communication
How to get over a breakup
Almost everyone at some point in their life will suffer from a relationship breakdown or breakup. This can happen for many different reasons, such as incompatibility, loss of love, or lack of trust. No two breakups are ever the same. Whether it was you or your partner who initiated the breakup, you may experience a range of feelings in the days, weeks and months following the breakup – sadness, anger, loss, betrayal, and sometimes even relief. No matter the length of the relationship, even if it was only just a few weeks, the breakup can still hurt and cause pain. There are many things which can affect how well you cope after a breakup and how well you heal and move on with your life. Factors which can hinder your ability to cope with the breakup might include: Experience. If your experience of the breakup and the events surrounding it was traumatic, the healing process may take a little longer. Avoidance. If you don’t allow yourself to process or think about what happened, the healing process may take longer. Distraction. The use of unhelpful coping mechanisms like abuse of substances and alcohol aren’t a helpful or permanent fix as they also don’t allow you to fully process what happened. The only way to really ‘cure’ the feelings and experiences following a breakup is to work through it and process what happened. Uncertainty. You might be keen to find answers on why the relationship broke down, and with good reason. People who understand the reasons surrounding a breakup tend to adjust faster than those who don’t [1]. However, if you're planning to get in contact with your ex-partner, make sure you have thought it through and approach the situation in an amicable manner, to prevent any more distress. Self-blame. This can often follow a lack of clarity around why the relationship broke down. Shared things. You might have shared friends, shared belongings, or even children and pets and the discussion of who keeps what can make things more difficult. Again, things need to be kept amicable to prevent more pain not only for yourself but anyone else involved. But there are measures which can be taken to help your levels of coping and healing following a breakup and help you to feel more like yourself again: Allow yourself the time to understand and process the relationship breakdown and your emotions which follow. Give yourself to grieve from the loss of your relationship. Meet up with friends and family. Getting support is a great way to aid your healing and process the breakup. Those who receive social or professional support following a breakup tend to cope better [1]. Try to get back into hobbies or things you may not have done as much since getting into the relationship. Self-time and care can help you feel more like yourself. Treat yourself. Do something enjoyable, just for you. Take the time to exercise, even if only a little, like a walk outdoors. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial to improving wellbeing and mood [2]. It can also clear your mind and help you reset. Healing after a breakup will take time and can’t be done overnight. There's no set length of time it should take to heal after a breakup and as long your way of coping is healthy you will get through it. However, if you still feel as though you’re struggling to cope, don't be afraid to reach out to a professional. They will be able to guide you through the healing process and aid you in coping and understanding any feelings you still have. By Tamara Almond-Lockett References [1] Barutçu. K, Adjustment to breakup of romantic relationships: initiator status, certainty about the reasons of breakup, current relationship status and perceived social support, 2009. [2] Klaperski, S., Koch, E., Hewel, D., Schempp, A., & Müller, J. (2019). Optimizing mental health benefits of exercise: The influence of the exercise environment on acute stress levels and wellbeing. Mental Health and Prevention, 15, 7. doi:
Article | breakups
New relationship worries
Romantic relationships can generate powerful emotions. They are often filled with passion and intimacy and can bond people forever. But before getting into a relationship, you will probably have to face the dating experience. You might feel confused, anxious, or terrified, with no idea of how to behave. Or you might feel the opposite: confident, steady, and relaxed. When you’re new to dating, you might experience a whole rush of new feelings [1]. Successful dates can create a real bond between the people involved, especially if you go on to form a couple. But you might be wondering when the dating stops, and the relationship begins. Usually, it is a natural transition as you notice that you’re becoming closer to your partner and getting to know them. Often the beginning of a relationship can feel wonderful and perfect, mainly because you’re both feeling enthusiastic and uplifted by the new feelings you’re experiencing. Too good to be true But, while everything can seem amazing at the beginning of a relationship, there might be worries lurking underneath. You might think it’s too good to be true, or that this wonderful new relationship will suddenly end, and that can leave you feeling very insecure. The desire to make a good impression can lead you to change your behaviour around your new partner, or to hide your flaws. In the early stages of a relationship, you can be so consumed by the novelty that you forget about your responsibilities, or the other people in your life. If you’ve noticed yourself getting lost in a new relationship, these tips might help: Be true to yourself. It’s normal for couples to take on some personality traits from each other, but it’s important not to change your behaviour in a way that isn’t true to you. Pretending to be someone else can be exhausting and isn’t fair on your partner either. Talk about your flaws. Remember that everyone has flaws. You might want to work on the ones that can be fixed but try not to get stuck in the ones that can’t. Instead of hiding, share your concerns with your partner. You might be surprised to find that your partner hasn’t noticed them, or even that they appreciate them. Balance your time. Love can be overwhelming but don’t let it take over your whole life. Make time for the other people in your life, and don’t neglect the other things that are important to you. This will help you maintain a sense of self and may even make you feel more secure in your relationship. Don’t overthink it. Take a deep breath, relax, and try to enjoy the moment. Communication One issue in all relationships is communication. Even people with lots of relationship experience face communication issues, which can negatively impact both partners. In a new relationship, when everything is raw, communication problems can lead to harsh arguments or even breakups. If you feel like you and your partner aren’t communicating enough, have an open and honest conversation. Talk about any issues or misunderstandings and try to sort them out, rather than hiding from each other. Honesty There are many reasons people hide the truth in relationships. You might be trying to protect each other, or you might be worried about how each other will react. Whatever the reason, being honest is usually the best way forward. The truth will come out eventually anyway. It can take time, effort, and courage to make the best of a relationship but when you’re willing to put that in, it can be a wonderful experience filled with exciting feelings. By Adrian Minea References [1] Meier, A., & Allen, G. (2009). Romantic Relationships from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Sociological Quarterly, 50(2), 308–335.
Article | dating, relationships
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.  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. 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
Community posts
What to do
So I started dating a Ukrainian woman at the beginning of October I am 43 and she is 37 and she has a son that is 11, when I first met her son he wanted to go back to Ukraine which she said they couldn’t because they have no idea what they would have. Then around Thanksgiving we found out she was pregnant. We were in different states at the time visiting family, while visiting family she wanted the baby and have a family. She got back to where we are living (same city) and when she got back she flipped and wanted to get rid of it. We went through it with me not wanting to get rid of the baby, she made her mind up and there was nothing I could have done that would have changed it. I proposed to her on Dec 15th, because we were going to start a family and I didn’t want her to think I wouldn’t support them. Her son and I bonded which she wanted, while Christmas shopping her son asked about Christmas Lights and was I putting anymore up? I said no, I think I am done for this year and he asked about doing more next year and I said no problem. I told her and she I think got scared because he wasn’t wanting to go back to Ukraine now and enjoying being here. We talked to an immigration lawyer to find out what the process was because I never did it before. Her and the Lawyer talked in Ukrainian which I think was about green card and if they could go back at some point. The lawyer said when you start the process you cannot go back. I think that scared her as well. We started talking about houses and she wanted a new house (mine is 40 years old and small closets). I told her we could look into it but I couldn’t sell at the moment as the market isn’t very good, but we did look at a couple. Everything was good until New Years and she started having doubts. I thought we worked them out and she said not everything. I will admit I do suck at communicating with someone (calling and texting). She was going to break up with me the beginning of January but I fought it and worked on communicating with her. She was happy I was doing that and said she wanted US no matter what differences we had. I following Thursday I followed her to watch her drop her son off and pick him up from school and on Friday of MLK day weekend I picked her son up. He was excited to move into my house. Well when she arrived she started walking through my home complaining about dust, closet space, and other things. Well we had a fall out. The next day I called to talk to her and have open communication and she gave me a bunch of doubts so I broke up with her and took back the ring. I haven’t talked to her in almost 2 weeks. Now I sit here thinking about her all the time, missing her and her son. People tell me I should text her and then other tell me not to. That you did nothing wrong and she needs to call you. I just want advice on what I should do.
User article | commitment
Liking someone else
I have a boyfriend of over 7 months which I know isn't long. He is my first boyfriend and we had a shaky start and only really properly clicked a couple months into the relationship. And it was going well other than a few disagreements but I kept noticing things like how I hadn't ment any of his family other than him saying that they wanting to meet me. A d I didn't like how much he smothed and ext... so I was fine with it all but I while out with onother mutual friend who was mine first we were drinking and having a heart to heart he admitted he would totally date me. And when drinkign at another opertunity he had said in front of me and others that it's a pitty I'm taken. This would be fine but he was also strocking my hair and being very forward. And I've always found him cute and sweet and lovely and kind and always had a lil thing for J but nothing bout it. Tho when with my now boyfriend we were quick into things and I was questioning things for a while. But I don't know what to do and I don't know how I feel. I don't know what to do and was looking for some advice. I feel like I should leave my current boyfriend habd have some time alone to think thinks over then see if the other man is feeling the same or if I should stay with who I have now. Its the case that I don't know how me and my current bf are gonna last and I sent know if I see a future with him anymore. Or if I ever did. I almost find him irritating now and I'm struggling with what to do .
User article | relationship
My girlfriend has a new weird “best friend”
My girlfriend (42yo) and I (43yo) are together for almost 4 years. We live an hour away from each other and, as our respective kids are going to school at our respective place, where our exes also live. It is then impossible for us to live together, all 7 ( she has 3 kids, I have 2). Basically, we live one week away, with our kids, one week together. She recently bought a house and asked a guy she knew from before (a friend of her ex) some advices about the construction. This guy has a heavy past : he left his wife for a woman looking like my girlfriend (same type of person), then broke up and wanted to go back with his wife, but she did not wanted him back. He went back in touch with my girlfriend and started to explain her that he feels very bad because he is alone. He admitted that he had always liked her, even when she was with her ex. Then he started to date many girls (thank you Tinder), and kept telling her how good sex he had, then how much he is in love with the girl, then finally how sad he is because de relationship is not going like he would like and then he drops the girls and find another one. In the mean time he is so depressed because his ex-wife has a new boy friend and he pretends to be in love with her. Well, back to my problem, they really text each other those last time, at any time of the day, sometimes very late or early. He always shows up. When she tells him we go out somewhere, he is there too. It got worst the last week when he came to her place one evening I wasn’t there, with his daughter, and they had fun lol together. Then even the daughter now is texting every other week to ask what they are doing. We had many argument my girlfriend and I about this behavior and she minimizes their relationships. But today, as I am home with my kids, I realized he is there (thank tosmart doorbell), but she did not tell me. I texted her but . We texted tonight and she told me about her daughter friend being there, but nothing about the guy. She even sent me a picture of her daughter and the dog watching tv… but no mention of the guy. What should I do?
User article | trust, friends
Am I acting like a jealous wife?
found texts on my husbands phone in March to a woman, whome I was led to believe was only 22/23, however turned out to be 35. I have known about my husbands collegues at work as we often discuss our day when we get home from work and this woman's name has arisen quite a few times since 2019 onwards. However I was totally unaware of how close my husband and she were until I went into his phone and discovered the amount of texts there were between the two of them, although I must mention that all the texts seem to be instigated by husband and not her leading me to feel that he has developed some sort of connection with her outside of our marriage.. Back in january 2022, 6 weeks or so before I found the texts, I noticed a change in him towards me, like a coldness, something to which I had never felt before. I told him I felt that he had feelings for her, to which he denied and said I was wrong. It appears now, that I was not wrong and he has openly admitted to having feelings for her, but insists they are nothing compared to what he feels for me, it is just a friendship. How deep his feelings actually are I do not know. I suspect deep enough for him not to be able to put us or our marriage first. He told me she has problems with her Boyfriend and that they discuss her personal life, Sexlife, aswell as other things that they have in common.. I have asked him if he has discussed our personal life with her, he said not. I've never had a problem with my husbands female work collegues and have never felt threatened or been given any reason before in our 22year relationship (16 of those married) to feel mis-trust, until now. To me boundaries have been crossed but he does not seem to understand that there is an issue and feels that because he has'nt slept with this woman he has done nothing wrong.. This is basically where we are at.. I am struggling to get past the betrayal hurt and total disrespect that I feel. I feel that his lack of understanding as to why I feel so hurt and betrayed is causing real conflict in our marriage. Their relationship/friendship is still ongoing at work, although A has told me he now tries to avoid her, ( I do not feel that this is true though). when they do cross paths he has told me they still hug on occassion, as she is a huggy person and that on occasions he kisses her on the head, whether she has reciprocated back with a kiss on the head/cheek, I do not know. I do not know how long their flirtatious behaviour has been going on, I can only suspect as far back as 2019, so it's been gradually building for some time and it is quite apparent to me that it has been welcomed by both parties, maybe as a means of escapism for him, from the humdrum drudgery routine of marriage, or maybe he felt that I wasnt their for him somehow, maybe he felt neglected, I dont know. What her reasons are i don't know, what I do know, is that I was and am not happy with it. When I found the texts on 2nd march it was a shock. I confronted my husband, to which he phoned in work sick, which only added to my suspicion, if you dont feel that you have done anything wrong why phone in sick? He was well aware how hurt I felt at the whole situation back in march and I mean deeply hurt. Regardless of my feelings, he went on to buy her not 1 but 3 birthday presants for her birthday in june, to which she was over the moon with.. I feel that he has and still is minimizing the relationship/friendship to pacify me. I don't feel that he has lied to me, but I feel that he hasn't been entirely truthful on the depth of his relationship/friendship or feelings for her and how much it meant and still means to him? If he is questioned in any way regarding this " friendship" or the texts, he goes on the defensive. To me he could of avoided all this back in March, if only he had put us and our marriage as top priority, but it became quite obvious what mattered most to him and that he had no loyalty to our marriage or us, otherwise we would not be sat here today.. This situation has caused a lot of soul searching for me, aswell as arguments, which are becoming tiresome and taking its toll on me mentally. When we argue, i end up stonewalling, because I'm so hurt/angry i literally cannot speak. This is not fair or healthy for our marriage, I know that and it's a trait that I have, that needs serious attention. It's certainly not healthy for me.. There are times when I can't see the woods for the trees, and I have spent the last 8 months picking apart our marriage, stitch by stitch until it has all but disintegrated. My gut instinct is telling me that something is not right. I am a strong person, I can take the truth, what I can't take is a watered down version of the truth, or edited versions of it. If I feel my trust has been broken, then I in turn feel so betrayed, to the point where I cannot even begin to imagine how I will get back to the person I was before, if that is at all possible. I feel that the me that believed in her Marriage, that felt that she was married to the best man/soulmate is lost. I feel Something must have been wrong with our marriage, i must have played a part in this. Somewhere somehow, his feelings must of shifted for me at sometime for him to develope such feelings for her on a emotional level and for him to send texts in the nature that he did..building up to such a level of wanting to go for a drink and offering her a lift home, apparently to help sort her life out, to fix her because they can't talk at work. Thus giving an opportunity to be alone together, which I believe is quite dangerous territory, given the fact that he had already developed feelings and an emotional connection with her outside our marriage.. I am disappointed that he couldn't talk to me. Something was obviously wrong with us, to which I was oblivious too. I welcome any input you could offer on if my feelings are justified..also am I right in feeling that I needed to take measures to try and put a stop to this relationshop/friendship from developing any further. No actual actions were taken by him to stop the friendship, even though he new how hurt I was by what I had read. I felt my feelings were of no consequence and all that mattered to him was his "friendship" with her I have never accused him of cheating or sleeping with her I do not feel that this has happened, what I have accused him of is having feelings for her, more than friendship. I feel he is in denial of these feelings, because then it would mean him admitting that he was/is capable of another woman occupying thoughts, headspace for which only should be reserved for your spouse. If that is the case, there is not much I can do, these things happen in life, people change, feelings change, one thing I do know is you will not be able to suppress feelings, they will keep re-surfacing and it is just best to be honest and truthful. Their is nothing worse than living a lie and it is also this that hurts, to think that he would only be here because, he has nowhere else to go, is sad. Don't ever give up happiness for materialism. People restart and build again all the time. These things happen in life. I have voiced all these concerns to him and he says this is not the case, but I feel the texts that he sent to her do not resonate what he is saying to me, his actions and texting tell me different. I thought we had a good marriage on the whole, I thought we shared and talked about everything, to find out this is not to be the case has come as a bit of a shock, as I was totally oblivious and had no idea of his " friendship" with her and this has forced me to seek a bit of a reality check. It is while taking this reality check that I find myself now Veiwing our marriage differently, because I was treated with such indifference..still am. If ever mention her or ask him if he has spoken to her, his answer is always, had a 2 SECOND conversation with her to one has ever had a 2second conversation..and if you press him, well what was your 2sec conversation, he gets all I shouldn't be asking. I shouldn't have to ask at all, he should tell me if they have had conversations when at work, whether they are "2seconds" or 20min. The saddest part of all this is that I feel that the old marriage is lost, we now have to try and build a new US, but we won't be the same, the marriage wont be the same. I will miss the marriage that we had the one that made me feel safe, the one that made me feel special, I no longer feel safe or special. I now feel like I constantly have to have my guard up, waiting for the moment when his feelings resurface.May be how I feel will fade in time, but when your reaching 60 time is more precious, why waste it on some thing that is never going to give you peice of mind, you can't buy peice of mind. Probably most of this is just mind talk, the mind is a powerful tool, because you dont know the truth and when you feel your feelings are being invalidated, you tend to come up with your own version of events, which is worse, but that's what happens when trust goes. Am I acting like a jealous wife? am i over-reacting? is it all in my head?, oh and the latest one is, I am warped in the head.. All of which have been said to me by my husband.. On the whole my husband is a kind, considerate and empathic man, ( although I have not witnessed much of that towards me the last few months) who still tells me he loves and adores me at every opportunity he gets. It was these attributes and qualities in him that made me fall in love with him. To find that he has reciprocated things he has said to me, things that I thought were specially for me, with another woman, well, it's not nice to read. I now regrettably find myself reacting to these statements of adornment and undying love with cynicism and irony, for someone who is supposed to love and adore you, why would they want to to hurt you and continue to hurt you when they could stop it..this I don't understand as love, that is not love, that is indifference.. I feel he was physically attracted to C The walkThe talkThe flirtatious personality The dress sense The confidenceGenerally the way she just carries herself. I wouldn't be suprised that at some point in their relationship/friendship he has at least once thought to himself, I wish my wife was more like her. would he be honest and tell the truth if he was asked the question? The volume of texts, the contents of the texts, all show that it was more than a friendship, I feel if he denies that it was anything more than friendship, then in his mind it's ok, to admit that it was something more than friendship, maybe in his head that would make him a bad person, for him to admit that he has feelings for someone other than me cannot be easy, so its easier to deny it.It doesnt make him a bad person it makes him I said these things happen someone can walk into your life and turn your world upside down and you dont even see it coming. she messaged him the other day about wanting to know his 5 favourite films favourite things to do and favourite beer. Messages and phone calls still going on to this day.. I appreciate any advice on what to do. Kind Regards M
User article | trust, emotional affair
Is this love?
There are many many reasons that I can think of for my behavior towards my husband. I'm just not understanding and putting a point on the reasoning. Lack of love affectionate happiness I would say is my problem. I could write a book for all the problems that I have with my marriage. I'm not in a struggle or in a desperate decision or given any ultimatums or even separation. To me right now I feel as if he's just a roommate or a best friend. Don't get me wrong there is Romance only when I want it to be romantic not much him trying to be towards me and me rejecting him because I don't reject him. I just don't have the interest like I should to go up to him and give him a hug and a kiss or play with him and tickle him or go game with small gift or conversate with him on how his day was at work and stick to the true feelings of missing him. When he comes up to me and kisses me I kiss him back and tell him I love him no problem, when he wants to make love I'm willing no problem, when he wants to go to a restaurant I hesitant but I do no problem. To me I would say it's a boring relationship but I very very much love him there's no abuse whatsoever there's no alcohol drugs whatsoever I just can't get my mind to wrapped around why I don't treat him the way he should be treated with my love and lots of my attention and interests. We're mostly quiet when we're around each other it would devastate me to the most if he were to leave me I do know that I do know that I do love him I've been with him for 21 years he's not going nowhere. And I sure ain't. Please could you help me with this I'm going through why am I doing this and acting like this towards him? I will admit there are times where this comes up in an argument that ignore him or that I just simply don't show him that I love him as he says. I'm scared and I don't know why this is going on. If I were to be in his shoes I would have left thinking that he doesn't love me. In my mind I feel that there is no respect and appreciation that I get from him that is one of the main and I mean one of them the main reason that is the cause of my behavior. But it's not something that I think about everyday how he disrespects me or how he doesn't show me appreciation or that he doesn't touch my face at night and smile and tell me he loves me. Those three things are definitely on rocks right now. He knows about them I tell him all the time but you see he is in denial he's never done anything wrong he's knows everything everything he thinks about and does is the right decision. So yeah it's kind of hard to convince or to make the other understand and realize that they have an issue that they need to take care of along me explaining that I too have issues that need to be changed in the relationship giving him the okay to talk about it or admit it or make up a plan to fix it. I think that constantly seeing these things in him has got me to be the way that I am. It has to be something similar to that it has to be. Our youngest daughter is 6 years old and our son is 13 I don't want us to split it would hurt me deeply but I know deep in my mind that this cannot go on any much longer or he's going to leave me. I would if I was him. He's not getting the love that he deserves or that he needs. But I want to assure you I'm not getting the respect that I deserve and the apologies that I deserve and most definitely the most important I do not get appreciated for the things that I do for him or in life General. Please I need your help thank you for your time and I hope to hear back God bless
User article | love, intimacy