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COVIDivorce Started Off As A Funny Meme, But It's Becoming A Reality

They say love is all you need - but after weeks of living in lockdown, maybe we all just need some space.

Family lawyers are seeing a rise in couples wanting to separate or divorce during COVID-19 restrictions, and experts suspect the virus could be to blame.

Relationship expert Dr Priscilla Dunk-West from Flinders University said those in long term relationships might struggle to adjust to our new socially isolated way of life and spending an increased amount of time together, especially if they're working from home with their partner.

"People are being exposed to other sorts of identity of their partner, that they perhaps haven't seen before," Dunk-West told 10 News First.

"Couples traditionally spend time outside of the household, then will come back in and have couple time that's quite distinguishable from other aspects of their life.

"What we see now, is this concentration of social interaction can produce a sense of conflict."

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Experts say working from home can cause problems for some couples. Image: Getty

And for some, that conflict is proving too much.

Family lawyer Virginia Bui from Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers said about 10 new clients a fortnight are coming through the door since lockdown restrictions started, seeking advice on divorce or separation.

Usually, it's about half that amount, and from speaking with her clients, Bui said coronavirus restrictions are a factor in the recent breakdown of marriages and relationships.

"The economic impact, job losses, social isolation, I think that's only added extra strain to people's relationships and unfortunately one of the by-products of that is that people have split up during this time," Bui told Ten News First.

"It's an awful experience to have to go through, and I think with the added impact of COVID-19 it just makes it so much worse."

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Dunk-West said those most in danger of breaking up likely already had cracks in the relationship before the virus hit, as social restrictions can amplify pre-existing issues within a relationship.

Here are some of Dunk-West's tips for keeping your relationship strong in isolation.

Appreciating gestures

Acknowledging the little things your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend might do for you. It could be as simple as a nice cup of tea or coffee or planning a date night from home with a good movie.

Separate home zones and work zones

If you have to work from home together, try and keep some spaces strictly work only, and other spaces for socialising and being together.

Don't ignore the relationships in your life

Just like you might have people over for dinner or double date with another couple, schedule a video call or catch-up drinks over Zoom, so you're still getting that social interaction outside of your relationship.

Be kind!

Everyone is learning how to cope with this new isolated way of life. So don't be too hard on your partner if things are becoming tense.

And remember, all relationships have ups and downs, good days, and bad days.

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Contact the author: tryan@networkten.com.au

Feature image: Getty