By Anne -Marie Cade, Founder of Divorce Right

With job losses at an all-time high and many parents working from home, it’s no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic is putting stress on ourselves and our relationships too.

Whether your struggling to nurture your relationship with your partner or finding it difficult to juggle co-parenting with the kids, Anne Marie-Cade from Divorce Right has some sound advice that can help all couples during this tough time.

How to avoid relationship stress and breakdown and nurture your relationship

Being trapped in close quarters will test each person’s patience and can place strain on all relationships. Creating a plan to support each other through these times is the key to beating relationship strain:

Communication is key – if something is bothering you it is important to tell your partner about it, explain how you are feeling and the reasons for it. Unmet expectations is a key cause for stress in a relationship. When our expectations are not met it causes frustration and resentment.

If you don’t communicate the problem clearly to your partner they may make assumptions which are incorrect. In my practice the common complaint I hear from couples is that “he/she did not listen to me.”

Being locked in provides a couple with opportunity to connect with each other.

Struggling do find your own space during lockdown? It can place strain on all relationships.

Be calm – make the time and space to have a conversation. Ask your partner when he/she would like to have a chat and schedule in a time.

Listen to your partner – Hear what the other person has to say without interrupting. Pay attention to non-verbal clues as well.

If you are both working from home – have the conversation about setting up a routine and schedule in time for when the family will come together for meals, discuss how the home chores are to be shared, limit technology use and schedule in some playtime too.

Create boundaries – create a sanctuary somewhere in the home where it is quiet with maybe just a chair or on the patio at the back where each person can have some alone time to read, meditate or do what they like alone.

Check in regularly with each other – ensure that there is no resentment building and deal with conflicts and resolve them as they arise.

Make time to exercise together – take the pet for a walk, get some fresh air. Prioritise self-care and express gratitude.

Finding the space to do your own thing is important.

Co-parenting in lockdown 

It’s important to remember that stress parents feel is absorbed by the children. Hence the reason parents need to cooperate more than over. Parenting plans that worked previously may need to be changed a little to meet the challenges that the threat of COVID poses.

If co-parents have a healthy, co-parenting relationship this may not prove to be difficult. Now more than ever parents need to communicate mindfully, focused solely on the best interests of the child rather than their own.

Ask questions to identify the concerns of the other parent and discuss options before making a decision. Respond and don’t react, commit to trying to understand your co-parent’s needs and wants. Reach out to your support network, parents, friends who may be able to assist but ensure they don’t say things that trigger you.

Don’t contact your co-parent when you are feeling stressed. If you both are unable to reach an agreement talk to  a mediator who can assist you virtually by facilitating the conversation between the two of you.

Your children need you both to work together and communicate respectfully so they feel safe.