UK relationship experts say that lockdown is a “gift” that forces couples to become more authentic because there is nowhere to escape.
When lockdown was officially imposed on March 24, the UK government told non-cohabiting couples they had a choice to start living together or remain apart for the duration of social isolation measures.
Survey findings published a month later, revealed that one in five couples in the UK aged between 25 and 34 living together in lockdown, were having doubts about their relationship.
According to London-based Relationship Coach Kate Mansfield, lockdown has the potential to expose unresolved relationship issues for couples.
“In lockdown, we are faced with even more truth about what is not working, about what is unsaid and what needs to be addressed,” she told the Sarajevo Times.
“Work, social, business and everything outside is gone, and we are left with each other.
“Anyone who has avoidance as a coping strategy will be pushed to the point of breaking.
“This is a gift,” she added, “it will force out the truth.”
Ms. Mansfield said that lockdown also presents an opportunity for heightened closeness between partners.
“If you have a good foundation in your relationship, you will feel the benefits of increased connection, and a feeling of support and being in a team together against the enemy, which is the coronavirus,” she said.
“With outside distractions removed, it can be a very positive time to build deeper intimacy and deepen the bond.”
For 27 year-old Alice Megan from Sheffield who was already living with her fiancée when social isolation restrictions were enforced, the absence of external interference that lockdown has afforded, has amplified her sense of connection with her partner.
“On a normal day we used to spend maybe four hours together and then sleep,” Ms. Megan told the Sarajevo Times.
“I think lockdown has significantly improved communication with my partner…we both no longer have long commutes that tire us out.
“We’ve got more spare time together and less stressful existences, meaning we have more time to talk and communicate,” she added.
The constant close proximity to her fiancée due to social isolation measures has provided Ms. Megan with greater clarity about her relationship satisfaction.
“Being in lockdown has made it significantly clear he’s the perfect man for me,” she said.
“He brings me up on dark days, he understands me better than myself, and despite the chaos around us, he makes me laugh every single day.
“Being together 24/7 has taught me more than I knew what an incredible man he is.”
According to Relationship Issues specialist Catherine Topham from Brighton and Hove, because being in lockdown together forces couples to be real with each other, it has the potential to nurture relationship compatibility.
“When we’re together all the time, we have little choice but to be our authentic selves with our partners,” she told the Sarajevo Times.
“And this is how we create compatibility – by showing each other our true selves, and accepting each other, foibles and all.”
Rebecca Valentina, a 29 year old from Gloucestershire, who had been living separately from her partner of one year until they decided to move in together during lockdown, has reaped the benefits of the forced authenticity lockdown creates.
“Being so close to each other has reaffirmed the reasons why we chose to be with each other,” Ms. Valentina told the Sarajevo Times.
“Our relationship has evolved and is different to that ‘honeymoon phase’ but it’s better and a more raw and honest relationship.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said, “there are days that are harder than others, but really it has been lovely getting to know him in a way I hadn’t really before.”
Ms. Valentina added, “it’s quite intense spending all day with someone…I’m sure I am not the only one who feels like that!”
According to a recent study,more than 27% of adults in the UK are finding their partner irritating during lockdown, and 23% say that social isolation has placed a strain on their relationship.
Catherine Topham Sly has created an online course called Love in Lockdown, specifically addressing the issues that have been arising for couples during lockdown.
The course aims to help support couples to better communicate their needs and concerns during the pandemic, and reduce relationship stress.
“This situation is really tough for everyone,” Ms. Topham Sly told the Sarajevo Times.
“None of us signed up for this when we committed to our partners, so it certainly comes with its own unique challenges as we work to process our feelings about the situation.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the UK has 226,463 COVID-19 confirmed cases,the third highest number of total coronavirus cases in Europe,surpassed by Russia overnight.
The UK death toll stands at 32, 692which remains the second highest in the world.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an announcement on Sundaythat lockdown will continue in the UK, although some measures would begin to ease this week, including unlimited time outdoors for exercise.
Written by Miya Yamanouchi for the Sarajevo Times