stress affecting relationship

Relationship strain under COVID-19

Stress affecting relationship

Our relationships have been under great strain over the past few months. For many couples spending so much time together at home combined with financial, parenting, work and health worries and a lack of personal space has pushed them to the limit. For others, lockdown may have strengthened their relationship as it’s enabled them to spend more time together, split household chores and perhaps removed some of the triggers that caused arguments such as spending a long time at the office.

According to research carried out by The Guardian almost a quarter of Britons with a partner (23%) said in mid-April that the circumstances were placing pressure on their relationship, and an ONS survey in July found 18% of respondents to an ONS survey said their relationships were being affected by the pandemic.

For many who were considering a separation, the pandemic may have intensified that feeling. Lockdown will have highlighted any problems that are there and being around each other all the time may have led to arguments. For some couples, the easing of restrictions may cause conflict, you might have different feelings about going to the pub or seeing family for example.

If your relationship is struggling, here are some tips that may help.

Recognise abuse

Abuse is any pattern of behaviour on the part of the abuser designed to control their partner whether that is emotional, mental, financial, or physical.  Contact Refuge The National Domestic Violence Helpline which is open 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or visit

Acknowledge that things WILL change

Remember that this is an unprecedented time that is putting everyone under huge amounts of pressure. It won’t be like this forever and all relationships have peaks and troughs, so avoid making any snap decisions as a result of lockdown.

Take time out

Spend some time apart from each other seeing friends and family, exercising, going for a walk. Space is good for relationships.  If you feel an argument brewing, remove yourself from the situation and go and do something else to calm down.


Communication is key to happy relationships – if something is bothering you, you have to say it out loud to your partner in a non-confrontational way. Remember that you will both see things differently, being right is not the end goal and you won’t always agree on everything.

Avoid blame and name-calling

Focus on how you feel and use statements such as ‘I am’ rather than ‘You are’. Accusing someone of something or telling them what they have done wrong will instantly get their back up and make them defensive. Never call your partner names in an argument.


It’s vital that both parties in a relationship feel heard – many of us are very good at talking but not so good at listening. Try being quiet for a bit and really listen to what your partner is saying.


Rather than keep rehashing old arguments or things that happened in the past, learn to let things go. Accept there will be things you disagree on in order to move forward. If you are unable to do this it is unlikely you will have a happy future together.

Seek help

If you’re just not getting on, getting some outside help can be really helpful, and may make you see things in a different light. You could contact Relate on 0300 0030396for couples counselling.

Financially many couples may be struggling. You or your partner may be furloughed, facing redundancy or if self-employed worried about future work. Have an open, honest conversation with each other about your financial position and seek help if you are worried, financial pressures put a lot of strain on relationships.  Approach your mortgage provider or landlord if you can’t make payments and contact the National Debt helpline for practical advice.  

LawCare provides emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their families. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at [email protected]  or access webchat and other resources at  

You can also try counselling either via a referral from the GP or by finding your own counsellor using a reputable organisation such as the BACP or UKCP.  If you have been bereaved during these tough times have a look at the CRUSE website who are currently providing bereavement support via their helpline 0808 808 1677.

Samaritans are there to help 24/7 on Freephone 116 123.

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