Supporting couples as we emerge from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted 30th of September 2021 by Gill Wier

Have you noticed a change in your relationship since the start of the pandemic? With long periods of time spent within each other’s company alone, working from home together as well as potentially providing educational support for your children, and generally losing a sense of ‘normality’ since March 2020, it is completely understandable if you feel your relationship has felt a strain in comparison to how it felt pre-pandemic. 

On the other hand, you may have experienced long periods of time physically separated from your partner due to the restrictions surrounding social contact, which may have had an impact on your relationship too. 

If you had recently entered a relationship before the pandemic hit, you may have moved in with a partner quicker than you would have had we not emerged in a pandemic. Alternatively, if you’re with a long-term partner, you may have felt you were arguing more than before.

A study conducted by University College London shows that, whilst 46% of young adults taking part said the quality of their relationships with their spouse or partner had improved, 25% of young adults aged 18–29 reported a worsening of their relationships during the pandemic, in particular with their spouse or partner. 

Divorce enquiries to legal firms have increased by 95% during the pandemic; Stowe Family Law, the UK’s largest family law firm, shared that the number of enquiries rose from 4,505 in January-March in 2020 to 8,801 between January-March in 2021.

Before the pandemic, relationship difficulties may have been non-existent: in a poll of 400 people, Stowe Family Law found around three-quarters of couples who separated or went through a divorced during the pandemic claim they experienced no tensions before the pandemic hit. 

Research into why break-ups and divorces have increased during the pandemic suggests an increase in mental health problems linked to the pandemic, removal of well-established routines, the financial impact of the pandemic due unemployment, redundancy, the furlough scheme or reduced wages, increased time apart due to a spouse being a key worker, and the decrease of social opportunities have contributed to marital and relationship breakdowns.

Whilst your relationship may not have been affected during the height of the pandemic, it may be that you have felt a change recently, as we have gradually returned to a more ‘normal’ state of living after the COVID restrictions were lifted. Alongside the return to work following a relaxing, enjoyable summer break, you may have noticed a difference in the dynamics within your relationship.

There are many reasons couples may be struggling with their relationship post-pandemic. A lack of attraction and ‘romantic anticipation’ during your relationship, increased work commitments and social opportunities leading to a decrease in time spent with your partner, and a lack of partner support and responsiveness during the pandemic are all factors that may have built up over time and, now we have returned to a form of ‘normal’, could be contributing to a weakening in your relationship.

If you recognise any of the above or have experienced different factors that you believe are negatively impacting or affecting your relationship, Sheffield Central Counselling is here to help. Our ‘Low Cost Counselling’ sessions cost £30, and are aimed at couples on an income of less than £12,000 per annum. We also provide the sessions for NHS staff. We can also offer access to fully-qualified counsellors and specialists with a wealth of experience for those on a higher income.

We offer a supportive space for couples to reflect on their relationship and offer tools for improving communication and working towards understanding and accepting one other. The sessions welcome people of all genders, sexualities and circumstances. Get in touch with our team to find out more.


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