Is working from home killing your relationship?

When Covid-19 first struck, and, for many of us, work moved to a home environment, people experienced mixed emotions.  How would it work?  Would it impact on professions, businesses and schools?  What needs to alter to be part of this brave new world?

Law practices like Lloyd Platt & Co were sent into a spiral of momentary panic.  If it couldn’t see clients face to face, how would things work, how would documents be dealt with, how would hearings work, would they actually happen?  The transition period was a tad bumpy, but within a very short time, working from home was acceptable.  In fact, with the addition of sunshine and family company, for some it was quite idyllic.  No squashed up exhausted travelling and the financial savings associated with that, being able to have fun with the family at home.  However, that early utopia has now turned into relationship nightmare for some.

For those of us who feared a drop in our work, we couldn’t have imagined how the numbers would spiral in the opposite direction.

Statistics are just emerging that since March 2020, the number of relationships including marriage, cohabitation, same sex marriage and civil partnerships have crashed into oblivion.

So, what’s the real cause of all of this?  The simple fact is that for years divorce practitioners have known that there are peak periods over the year that give rise to a surge of divorce and relationship breakdown.  They’ve been traditionally September after the summer break and January after the Christmas break.  What did those two periods have in common? The fact that parties who for the most part worked separately and only saw each other briefly were forced to spend up to two to three weeks together.  If parties couldn’t cope with that period being cloistered together in what on the face of it were exotic settings or cosy family gatherings, you can imagine the impact of never-ending togetherness.

The fact is that certain patterns have definitively emerged: –

  1. That being forced together in a close environment without outside relief has caused many to simply implode. Annoying habits that would ordinarily be ignored have grown into unforgiving traits and now have become aspects of unreasonable behaviour enough for divorce.
  2. Competitive conduct, when both parties believe that the other should be carrying out certain tasks and they haven’t. This is particularly raw if the other party makes suggestions how better to carry out the tasks. So emptying the bin, doing the hoovering, clearing up, doing the shopping or home schooling have become battlegrounds in many homes.  Compromise appears to be a  pre-COVID fantasy.
  3. Never escape room. Pre-COVID parties would carry out different activities or hobbies.  In lockdown, there was simply no escape.  If she wanted to watch Eastenders and he wanted to watch football, who was most deserving?  Both claiming to have been exhausted and both claiming an unrewarded sense of entitlement.  Add kids to the mix, and boom!
  4. Many complained that they needed to work and that the children should be neither seen nor heard. Try telling that to a mother who was trying to do home schooling and work in between the housework.

All would be well, some hoped, once lockdown was lifted.  The Shangri-La of seeing friends and going to restaurants would once again return and they’d both go back to their work environments except that they didn’t.

Problems that have started to emerge during lockdown now took on a new meaning, as working from home has taken on a permanency.

If at that moment Professor Whitty had called for the next screen, it would have shown a graph that went through the roof statistically.   People don’t want to be together anymore – Covid-19 has been the biggest environment for personal reflection.  Friendships have been ditched, jobs have been changed and relationships have never been so under strain.

With the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, numbers are bound to spiral further.   Some of us have to say “maybe time it’s to go back to the office folks – for the sake of your marriage and your partner’s sanity because it seems that working from home just might be killing your relationship!”

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