A leading divorce lawyer has warned that the countrywide coronavirus lockdown could ruin thousands of relationships.
Vanessa Lloyd Platt says her busiest times are usually in September, after the summer holidays, and when the festive season has finished.
In other words, when families have been holed up together for an extended period of time.
But the celebrity divorce lawyer expects to see a spike in the number of couples wanting to split once the nation has stopped self-isolating.
Vanessa says: “The evidence is that if parties are forced to spend time together with competitive approaches to family – who is to look after the children or clear up or simple household tasks? – there appears to be an explosion of selfishness perceived by the injured party.
“Translate this into being holed up for months in the home with each party believing that either their work is more important or that work trumps tasks, and there is a potential recipe for relationship Armageddon.”
The next few weeks, at least, will be intense for many families.
But there are ways to avoid falling out with your partner as you try to weather the storm as one.
Here, Vanessa shares her top tips to save a relationship.
See each other as equal
Whether you’re the chief caregiver for your children, the breadwinner or both, everyone has an important role
to play in the family.
As a result, it’s vital to respect each other as equals.
Vanessa says we should “pin this message to the fridge” and try to support each other as much as possible.
“If one party is exhausted, then do not tell them it is their job or role, or it’s ‘tough’,” she says. “Try to ease the burden by helping.
“It is not just the province of women to cook, clean and deal with the children and, in addition, do all their workfrom home.”
Don’t be too critical
Living and working in one place might mean
you pay more attention to missed spots of dust or dirt. But don’t complain – just clean it yourself.
Vanessa says: “Condescending or undermining remarks when people are under stress is an absolute no-go area.
“Try the opposite instead. Show appreciation for what they are doing or have done, and help where you can. Don’t wait to be asked, just do it.”
Control the kids
Although children are rarely seen outside their bedrooms during daylight hours, a mixture of stress and hormones is bound to cause arguments when spending extended time together.
Because of this, make sure you set out a rota of chores for them to do.
Vanessa says: “Do not allow children to dictate the agenda to you, or invite all of their friends round to put you at maximum risk.
“There is a lockdown and they have to understand this and be sensible.Further, do not allow them to make excuses about why they want to go out, only to find out that they are meeting up with their friends.”
You don’t need to constantly entertain
Most parents will know the pressure of having to provide constant entertainment for kids who are bored during the school holidays.
But Vanessa says it’s important to remember that kids will entertain themselves.
“Do not allow your children to dictate the agenda to you,” she says. “You are the parents. They
are the child.”
Be kind to each other
Working from home is a big adjustment for everyone in the household, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent with a working partner or having to share makeshift office space.
Remember that you’re not speaking to employees or colleagues in the home, so continue to treat your family with kindness and respect.
Vanessa says: “Talk to each other in a kind and non- snapping tone.
“If necessary, practise in the mirror. You may think you are talking normally but you might not be. Just because you are a CEO in the office, it does not give you the right to be belligerent and overbearing at home.”
Don’t assume your other half is always available
Having your partner at home all the time may sound like a surefire way to get affection and sex on demand.
But Vanessa says it’s important to understand that just because your other half is at home, they are not available at any given moment and have other responsibilities.
“At times of stress, people’s libido can drop dramatically,” she says. “Do not start getting angry because after a full day of working and looking after the children they don’t fancy anything more than a hug.”
Follow the rules
To maintain a healthy family relationship – and your own health – it’s essential you follow the Government’s advice on how to stay safe during the pandemic.
Vanessa says: “Treat others, including your partner and children, with respect during this time and don’t expect them to go to places or do things that put them at risk.
“They will resent it and eventually their frustration will turn to anger. Remember, we are all in