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      Are you and your partner working from home? Here are five ways couples can avoid stress during lockdown

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      A Middlesex University academic expert on relationships has offered couples stuck at home during the Coronavirus pandemic five tips on how they can avoid arguments.

      With millions of husband and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends and LGBT couples currently having to stay indoors with each other all day during the Covid-19 lockdown, there could be the potential for disagreements to say the least.

      Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez, a Lecturer in Psychology, whose PhD and Doctoral research has focused on the impact of second-time parenthood on couple relationships, has offered these five ways couples can happily co-habit amid the extreme circumstances of the crisis.

      1, Make Time for Good Communication

      “Make time for each to communicate with each other, either daily or find some time to have good quality interactions on a daily basis or at least check in with each other to see how they are coping with what’s going on in the world. And really listen, without interrupting and try to be present so they feel heard and their emotions are contained. Because that’s what we do as partners, we provide support for our other half, and comfort during times of stress.”

      2, Be Kind to Each Other

      “If you’ve bickered with your partner or lost your cool, it happens. Just be kind and move on, don’t let the issue become a big rift during a time when you going to be stuck with each other. It is worth considering letting things go. This obviously excludes any sort of domestic abuse in the relationship and individuals are encouraged to seek support if experiencing this.”

      3, Maintain contact with the outside world

      “Maintaining contact with the outside world, outside of the relationship, supports the relationship because we feel we have got other avenues for support and to bring in information and topics to discuss within the relationship. It all feeds one another and can take some of the pressure off the relationship by still being able to turn to others.”

      4, Negotiate your space in the house

      “Have conversations about a routine or a structure that works for each person. Be explicit about it, and for example say ‘does this work, how should we tackle this week because I’ve got these meetings’. Ask each other what are the best ways forward together so that you take into account each other’s needs and work in a way that honours everyone’s needs and schedules.”

      5, Be way of the time spent on social media

      “Don’t get too caught up in social media to the detriment of ignoring the person who is physically in the home. Set some boundaries with social media and your relationship. While it is important to make time for the outside world, and social media might play a role in this, it is important to keep a balance between social media and making time for your partner. If you feel you are being ignored in favour of social media, try having a conversation with your partner about this and how you feel – they may not have realised.”

      In an new research project, Deborah and fellow Middlesex University psychology lecturer Katie Anderson will be asking a number of couples to keep a daily 

      In the research project, Deborah and Katie are seeking couples who have been living together for at least six months prior to the UK lockdown which began on March 23.

      According to their research proposal, the study “aims to explore and gain an understanding of the personal and relational experiences of self-isolation and what it is like being in a confined space during the UK lockdown for couple relationships”.

      Individuals taking part will be asked to keep a daily diary (written or audio) for one week with the option of completing an ‘emotional map’ which will involve placing  emoji stickers on a map of their home to represent feelings.

      The participants will be then be interviewed about their experiences of the lockdown and relationships in general afterwards and they are due to be given a £35 Amazon voucher as a thank you for taking part.

      If you would like to be involved in the research email d.bailey-rodriguez@mdx.ac.uk or k.anderson@mdx.ac.uk.

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      Stuart O'Brien

      All stories by: Stuart O'Brien