Resolving conflict in quarantine

Guidance for couples on how best to survive the isolation period. 

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, divorce rates in China have already risen as couples who were forced to isolate together for weeks found that the quarantine period placed too great of a strain on their relationship. This is a worrying trend as Britain enters the early stages of isolation, with the Government announcing the closure of all public meeting areas and employers sending their staff to work from home, forcing British couples to live in one another’s pockets. 

In light of everything going on, it is inevitable that we are all feeling anxious: the constant news reports on the increasing threat to our way of life, the stresses of adapting to working from home, the isolation from family and friends and the worries and feelings of isolation will inevitably lead to flashpoints with our partners. However, it is important now, more than ever, to maintain a good relationship with our loved ones.

‘But you’re divorce lawyers?’ we hear you say! This is true, and it may feel strange taking relationship advice from solicitors who are experts in divorce and family law matters. But as divorce lawyers, we are constantly privy to the reasons why marriages break down and therefore, we are in the best position to offer guidance on what to do and not to do in order to avoid the breakdown of your relationship, so let’s make a start! 

Routine 

It is important to re-introduce a routine into your lives. Set an alarm for the same time each day, as you would if you were going to work. Make a list of things you hope to achieve by the end of the day, whether they are work related or domestic tasks. It is important to have separate goals that you can each work towards. Feeling a sense of achievement at the end of the day is likely to lift your spirits and as a result, you will get along better. 

Take routine breaks throughout the day, whether it’s for a cup of tea, or even better, to walk the dog or to sit in the garden. This will help keep you motivated, give you a well-earned rest and fresh air will lift your spirits. If you feel happier, this is likely to radiate through to your partner.

Make sure to stop working at the same time every evening. Working from home can blur previously established boundaries and can interrupt a good work/ home life balance. This may result in feelings of stress and exhaustion and can cause friction between you and your partner. So, if your usual clock off time is 5, 6 or even 7pm, make sure you stop working, and relax for the evening. 

Establish your own space 

Establishing a space within the house for each of you to work in, and then respecting that space is important. Whether it’s your preferred room to work in, or the room you’ve chosen to work on that day, communicate this and allow each other that space. Don’t wander in for a chat from time to time. Not only will it provide you with a much needed break from each other, you will probably find that you are able to be far more productive. This show of respect will be appreciated and hopefully reciprocated, making for good vibes all round!  

Limit the time you spend listening to the news

Of course it is vital to stay in the loop at this crucial time. But, obsessively checking the news is unhealthy and is enough to fill anyone with fear, dread and anxiety, all of which  contribute to increasing stress, and may influence the way that we treat each other. Reduce your news intake to a couple of times a day. This is enough to stay informed, but not so much as to allow it to negatively impact your day.  

Exercise 

Everybody knows that exercise is good for you but it really is worth emphasising the positive impact exercise can have on the mind and the psyche.  Exercise releases endorphins which effects the brain and triggers a feeling of positivity. Regular exercise has been widely documented as having a positive effect on mood, as well as mental clarity. Anything which improves your mood and your partner’s mood is going to have a positive effect on your relationship; it could also be something fun to do together. Exercise does not have to be strenuous, a walk and some fresh air is sometimes enough. 

Self-Care 

The meaning of self-care differs from one person to another. For some, self-care means spending time reading a novel, for others it’s taking a nice long bath. Looking after yourself is important. How you feel about yourself effects how you feel about others. As the saying goes, you need to love yourself before you are able love anyone else. 

Why not try to include meditation or mindfulness in to your routine? Both of these practices are said to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and promote mental wellbeing. There are numerous apps and online tutorials available to help guide you towards achieving the benefits of the practice.

Respect

It is important to remember that you have to treat one another with respect. If flashpoints do occur, be quick to apologise, and be quick to forgive, and remember, be kind to one another!

Remember, you are not alone! 

It is so important to remember that the majority of people will be struggling in one way or another. The isolation period will place a strain on your relationships, whether it’s with your partner, your children, friends or other members of the family. It is not abnormal to be bickering with one another, or to feel irritable or distant. You are not alone and all we can do is try our best to help each other get through this TOGETHER.

From all of us at Grant Stephens Family Law, stay safe and take care of each other!