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Are you headed for divorce or is your relationship just suffering from 'lockdownitus'?

It's been a hard year so far as we all know and many elements of our lives have shifted giving us cause to reevaluate much of what we deal with each day. Relationships have grown and blossomed, and some have come under extreme stress. But, are the cracks lasting? We invited Divorce Coach and author of 'Uncoupling', Sara Davison, to share her thoughts on whether your relationship breakdown is really going to last, or whether it's an artificial result of our extraordinary year.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the collateral damage of lockdown has seen a record spike in divorce inquiries around the world with UK family law firms reporting a surge of more than 40% during and since quarantine. This replicates the spike in China where rates continue to soar, with one office in South West China witnessing 300 couples applying for divorces in a period of just three weeks and one registry in Xi’an receiving an overwhelming 14 requests in one day. Traditionally, the biggest annual peak in divorce inquiries comes after Christmas and New Year when people spend more time with their partners – this is coined as ‘D Day’. The second peak is after the summer holidays when couples have spent long periods of time together on holidays away from the distraction of daily routine and school runs.

As a Divorce Coach, I have been busier than ever in recent months. As well as continuing to

see clients via Zoom on a one to one basis, I also began hosting a virtual Clinic - live daily through Instagram. I soon noticed a dramatic increase in inquiries – I’d say by as much as 40 – 50 per cent. The vast majority of inquires were from people who were already on the fence and thinking of filing for divorce before lockdown and, faced with the harsh reality of being at home with their partner, this had pushed them to breaking point. For those that were planning to leave, but couldn’t – this has been an intensely challenging time and people were crying out for coping strategies. There were also those who had agreed to separate but hadn’t yet organised the logistics or filed for divorce – being locked down together caused enormous strain and pressure just to keep the peace.

Lockdown may be over but this doesn’t have to mean your relationship is too.

The chronic stress we have all been under during Covid-19 has placed couples under enormous and sustained pressure so it is vital that you allow yourself some time to recalibrate before rushing into any life changing decisions when your marriage could well recover.

If you began to see cracks in your relationship during isolation (or even huge, gaping chasms) then please be reassured that this is only natural having been stuck with your partner for so long without the normal daily distractions. Even the healthiest of partnerships will have been through the mill so it’s important to take stock and not rush into a breakup. There could be a way to save your relationship and also even improve it!

Divorce is well known as the second most traumatic experience we go through, second only to the death of a loved one. The top three most common causes are:

1. Breakdown of good communication where issues are left to fester and resentment builds

2. Your romantic bond withers

3. You drift slowly apart as focus shifts to family or work

These can all result in one partner feeling unloved or rejected, increased conflict and also infidelity.

So how do you maintain peace and harmony to get your relationship back on track?

It’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions after lockdown as these have been unprecedented difficult times and you need to make sure that you don’t leave with any regrets.

My top tips are:

1. Don’t rush into a breakup. Give your relationship time to adjust after isolation. It will take some time to get back on track as you establish a new daily routine. When other distractions come back and you can live more independently you may feel your connection reigniting.

2. Commit to take some action. Good relationships don’t just happen, they take work and commitment. Decide to do everything you can to rescue your relationship so you know in your heart of hearts that you have done your best. The worst-case scenario is you leave with a lot more clarity and with less guilt having tried your best, but the upside is you could save your marriage.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let go of the little things that have upset you and drop minor grudges that may have been stacking up irrationally due to ‘virus stress’. It’s easy to get tunnel vision about issues that really don’t matter.

4. Refocus your mind. Write a list of all the things you love about your relationship, including the things you are grateful for. It is easy to only focus on the negative points so this will help you maintain a balanced view.

5. Kindness is king. Kindness is often the first thing to disappear during rocky times in a relationship however it is key to a strong marriage foundation. Finding ways to be kind and loving can often melt tension and rekindle romance.

6. Actions speak louder than words. Being the change you want to see in your partner can be the most effective way to bring them around. You may find they reciprocate and make more effort with you without you actually having to ask them.

7. Be spontaneous. Surprises can be very romantic so take advantage of being able to eat out in your favourite place again or have drink in your local to rekindle your connection. It’s important to get your sparkle back so be creative!

Recent challenging times will have had an impact on both of you and maybe changed the way you think about life and the priorities that are most important. Take this time to get to know one another again and rediscover who you each are.

These steps won’t always be the easy option and sometimes you may feel like throwing in the towel and walking away. Bear in mind nothing worth having ever comes easily and a good relationship needs nurturing. If things have gotten off track it will take some time and effort to restore it. But the good news is that it is possible and it could even make the relationship stronger and happier than ever.

Later this month, Sara will be back on the hub giving us her tips on what to do when a relationship has irretrievably broken down in 'How to have a good divorce'.

If you would like to turn your breakup trauma into a positive experience and become a Breakup and Divorce Coach then check out this free webinar for more information.

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