Covid restrictions cause friction for UK couples as pandemic pressures take their toll on the nation's romantic relationships

Covid restrictions cause friction for UK couples as pandemic pressures take their toll on the nations romantic relationships
  • More than half (51%) of UK adults who are married or in a romantic relationship said the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have had a negative impact on their relationship
  • This increases to more than half (52%) of females and almost two thirds (63%) of 35-44 year olds who are married or in a romantic relationship
  • Almost a fifth (18%) of couples stated their own or their partner’s financial difficulties or money worries as the reason for why their love has cooled during the pandemic
  • More than a quarter (27%) of 35-44 year old couples responded that the pressure of home schooling has had a negative impact on their relationship
  • Half (50%) of Gen Z (18-24 year old) couples stated loneliness and isolation, caused from being away from friends and family, have had a negative impact on their relationship

Coronavirus is taking its toll on the nation’s love-life as the stresses of lockdown living are having a negative impact on romantic relationships – as new online YouGov research reveals Covid restrictions are causing friction for UK couples.

A YouGov survey of 2,162 UK adults (18+) revealed more than half (51%)1 of people in a relationship (married/civil partnership/living together/in a relationship but not cohabiting) claim the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have hit their relationship hard. This rises to more than half (52%) of females and just over two thirds (67%) of 35-44 year olds surveyed.

Commissioned by national law firm Stephensons Solicitors LLP, the survey highlights the negative impact the pressures of living through the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and increased social distancing measures are having on UK relationships.

Almost a fifth (18%) of couples stated that their own or their partners’ financial difficulties or money worries were the reasons their relationship was on rocky ground, rising to just under half (44%) for Gen Z’ers (18-24 year olds), 28% for Millennial (25-34 year olds) and 30% for Gen X (35-44 year olds) couples.

While the challenge of home schooling has had a negative impact on more than a quarter (27%) of those couples aged 35-44 years old, many of whom will have been juggling schoolwork, parenting and working from home at the height of the pandemic.

The loneliness and isolation of being away from friends and family is hitting relationships hard also, with almost a fifth (19%) of UK couples surveyed citing the negative impact this has had on their relationship with their partner. This rose to almost a quarter (23%) of females in a relationship who responded and half (50%) of Gen Z’ers (18-24 year olds).

“Many couples have been navigating uncharted territory in their relationships over the past six months. The stresses and strains of this so-called ‘new normal’ have understandably put a heavy burden on people’s lives and for some their relationships have buckled under that pressure,” said Amanda Rimmer, a Partner in the Family Law team at Stephensons.

“Coping with financial or employment worries, shielding or dealing with other health issues as well as juggling parenting duties and home schooling, have all taken their toll. These challenges would have tested even the most solid of relationships at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. With potentially another six months of restrictions, the impact upon relationships is not going to get better any time soon.”

Amanda added: “At times of stress and worry people start to think more deeply and carefully about what is important in their lives and whether they want to change anything about it. It seems inevitable then that once the dust settles couples will go their separate ways.” 

Baby Boomers (55+) are the only age bracket of UK adults surveyed whose relationships appear to be relatively unscathed with 64% claiming that coronavirus and lockdown have not dampened their relationship.

There were 90,781 divorces of opposite-sex couples and 428 divorces of same-sex couples, in England and Wales in 2018. The average duration of marriage among opposite sex couples was 12.5 years.

5 steps to consider if your relationship is proving a challenge:

  • Consider using the services of a counsellor who can objectively listen to your relationship concerns and provide guidance and support.
  • Spend time with close friends or family members outside of your relationship. Even virtually, it’s always helpful and healthy to discuss your feelings.
  • Maintain communication with your partner - try and keep things as civil as possible and listen to each other’s concerns.
  • Take time out and do something ‘for you’. Whether it’s going for a run or a long walk with the dog, those moments of ‘me time’ are really important. 
  • All relationships require give and take. When you’re living in close quarters, being accommodating of the other person’s needs without sacrificing your own can help foster more happiness.