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Keeping relationships healthy in lockdown

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Published: 29 April 2020

University of Sunderland in London student talking on the phone

Learning how to adapt to a shared space with your partner, family or flatmates during lockdown has no quick-fix solutions. Living our lives in smaller spaces will naturally affect our relationships. You might be in lockdown with someone you don’t know, or don’t get on with, or even don’t feel safe around. Whatever your situation, working our individual space and dividing chores can be a tough battle.

More upsetting are the statistics on the increase in domestic violence and abuse during the time we've been in lockdown. Refuge, the UK largest domestic violence watchdog, reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in one day. Causes of domestic violence appear to be increasing, with abusers being given more chances to be controlling. A spokesperson for Refuge said, ‘In the current climate, it is certainly more challenging for women suffering abuse. Lines of communication could be severely limited if women are unable to leave the home’. 

With this in mind we wanted to pass on a few things to think about during lockdown:  

Support one another

COVID-19 has already taken a lot from us, both as individuals and socially. You or your partner might go through financial stress due to cuts, furloughing or similar conditions out of your control. Try to support each another emotionally until bigger changes can be made.

Communication is key

If you feel you need to talk, share it with the people around you that you can trust. Talking about how you’re feeling with your flatmates, partner, or children can be uncomfortable, new or challenging. But the crisis will situation we're going through only make the things you’re already going through difficult if you can’t talk about them. If you don’t think you can speak about your issues face-to-face, try writing a letter, email or text. Don’t forget, you can always contact a friend or family member over the phone or text is you don’t feel comfortable talking to the people you live with.

Setting reasonable boundaries

Boundaries can be limiting, but are still important to help you balance your responsibilities, as well as your own space and mind. Don’t be afraid to say no to activities that put a strain on you. 

Remember to be kind

Think about if the arguments you would have had before the lockdown need to happen now. Ask yourself if they can be postponed until after the situation has gone back to normal. Can you change your tone? Is the thing you want a reasonable expectation given the current crisis? The therapist Esther Perel says we shouldn’t make any ‘bigger decisions’ during these times. 

If you feel threatened or at risk, please contact one of the following helplines as soon as safely possible: 

If you want to discuss the issues raised in this article or any others, you can set up a one-to-one confidential conversation with our Health and Wellbeing team. Email to find out more.

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