9 Tips to help you get through lockdown if you’ve decided to end your relationship
Jan 11, 2021
2020 saw an increase, in the number of divorces in the UK of 122% from July to October compared to the same period for 2019. There’s no doubt that lockdown will have played a massive part in this rise.
When we’re unexpectedly thrown together in a close environment, 24/7, existing issues with our relationships can be exacerbated and brought to a head. Working at home, being furloughed or made redundant, home-schooling the kids, health concerns of themselves and family members and a lack of personal space at home to retreat to or work from, have all caused increased stress and anxiety, putting further pressure on already strained relationships.
Not being able to get out of the house to go to work, meet friends or go to the gym and exercise classes has meant there has been no outlet to release the stress and tension. Lockdown has been the final straw for many relationships.
Some couples who previously thought their relationship ‘worked,’ when they perhaps only spent an hour together at the end of the evening, once all the chores were done and the kids in bed, have decided that actually they don’t want to be together anymore. Spending a lot more time with their partner has made them realise that it’s not what they want for the rest of their lives.
There’s no doubt that some couples will decide to stay together in the short term, because of the financial pressure involved, made worse by lockdown and redundancy. Divorce might not be an option until they can become more financially secure again.
For others divorce now seems to be the only option for them.
If you have decided to split from your partner, then here is some advice to help you get through the current lockdown:
- Review your living arrangements – Has the relationship broken down to the extent that one of you needs to move out? If the situation is untenable then this is probably the best course of action, if your finances allow. If you cannot afford to rent somewhere then consider the option of staying with a friend or family member. However, if you are still able to stay in the same house in the short term, try and have a separate space or room in the house for each of you that is yours and that you can retreat to when you need to. Respect each other’s space and privacy.
- Contact a solicitor or mediator if you need to – if you want to get the divorce proceedings started then both solicitors and mediators are still working on-line. The divorce process itself can be done for £550 which is the legal dissolution of the marriage. Where costs start escalating can be the agreement of the financial situation which is separate to the divorce process itself. If you can agree the financials between you, then this will certainly minimise any legal costs. However, I would always advise you asking a solicitor to review the final arrangement. Mediation is another option available if you are unable to reach an initial agreement
- Remove yourself from the situation if arguments start - Take some deep breaths, walk away and then return to your partner when you’re able to discuss it calmly. Avoid using ‘You’ in the argument eg ‘You did this’ as it’s attacking your partner which will in turn make them defensive. Use ‘I’ instead and say what you want or how you feel.
- Establish a routine and boundaries - Be clear with each other what your routine will be so that you can manage expectations and avoid unnecessary arguments. Agree up front who will be supervising the kids and when and which chores you will each be responsible for. Ensure that you both have some uninterrupted alone time.
- Find support from a friend or family member – It’s really important that you have someone to turn to when you’re feeling low or struggling – which will happen. Think carefully about who you choose to rely on. Often our closest friends and family are too close and invested in the situation to be objective. They won’t necessarily give you the best advice even though their heart will be in the right place. Ask your person up front if it’s ok to call them when you need to - so that you don’t feel like you’re bothering them at the time when you need them most.
- Get clarity on your finances – A divorce normally means an increase in overall expenses as a result of another property and the associated costs of that. Alongside this the existing assets are shared between the couple which can make finances tight and Covid-19 is likely to have put even more of a strain on finance. Take some time to look at your income and outgoings so that you have clarity over your financial situation which helps you feel in control - by knowing your options. Even if you don’t like the situation, at least if you have the clarity, you can take actions towards changing it. If possible, see a Financial Advisor who will be able to support you and many don’t charge for an initial meeting.
- Exercise – This is probably the last thing that you feel like doing at the moment, but it really does make such a difference. It releases all those endorphins which creates the ‘feel good factor’. Choose an exercise that you love – even if it’s just a walk outside in nature – just get your body moving. Enlist the support of an exercise buddy so that you’ve got someone to motivate you on those days when you really can’t be bothered – which will happen.
- Maintain your social contact - It’s important that you don’t lose contact with your friends and family during this time, despite it being more difficult than usual. Lockdown is definitely making it harder to cope with the emotional side of a breakup, with people feeling even more lonely and isolated than normal. Go for a socially distanced walk with a friend or speak on the phone or via zoom. Make sure you’re not isolating yourself.
- Let yourself experience your emotions - Divorce is the second most traumatic event you can go through in your lifetime so you will experience a roller-coaster of emotions. Don’t stuff down your emotions or self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, but be prepared to sit with them. It’s all part of the grieving process and completely normal. You have to go through this as part of the healing process.
I would always advise that a couple makes sure they are absolutely sure that they want to separate so they can leave with no regrets, knowing that they have tried everything to make the relationship work. The trauma and devastation of a divorce can’t be underestimated. A therapist or divorce coach can help you work through this.
However, it’s important to realise that you can still have an amazing future after a divorce even though it’s different to what you had originally planned. Start thinking about your future and what you want it to look like so that you can start getting excited about it.
If you're currently going through a breakup you can download my free guide here: 10 Tips to help you get over your breakup www.sarah-woodward.com/10Tips
You can also join my free Facebook group which is a community of women all in the same situation who are there to support each other in a safe and non-judgemental space. https://bit.ly/thebreakupanddivorcelounge