A new poll has revealed that one in four people in the U.K. believe that their relationship has worsened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With concerns about the future, financial insecurity, home working and in some cases, the health - and mental health - of children and elderly parents, more than a quarter of adults questioned said their relationship with their partner had deteriorated either "considerably" or "somewhat".
This figure doubled amongst poll respondents in London, with 53 per cent of couples saying their relationship had suffered.
The survey also showed some differences in age groups, as over 65s seemed to be happier, with just 10 per cent saying their relationship had deteriorated, compared with 70 per cent of those aged 18-34 for whom the pandemic has had significant economic and emotional effects.
The poll was commissioned by the Priory, the mental health care provider with a chain of hospitals and clinics across the U.K., and involved more than 1,000 adults.
Priory consultant psychiatrist Dr Natasha Bijlani, who treats patients at Priory's Roehampton Hospital in south-west London, said many couples had found working in close proximity very difficult.
"Relationships require mutual compromise and adjustment, and the pandemic affected even the strongest of couples," Dr Bijlani said. "Previous routines that couples had may have masked pre-existing problems and differences.
"The lack of space or distance between each other to 'cool off' under lockdown is likely to have exacerbated disharmony and it is not always possible for couples to address their miscommunication issues. We all tend to get into repetitive patterns of behaviour, particularly with loved ones.
"But recognising difficulties, and working to improve our understanding of each other's perspective, along with better communication, goes a long way towards preventing breakdown. Psychotherapists are trained to help people understand their behaviour and reactions, as well as to enable individuals and couples to learn to incorporate practical strategies in their relationships that can go a long way to improving not just their own emotional state and 'sense of self', but also enhance their communication and relationship with others."
According to Dr Bijlani, a talking therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can help people to change negative patterns of thinking, behaving and communication, and could help couples express points of view more effectively.
Priory has recently launched Priory Connect, an online face-to-face therapy service that offers remote access to Priory psychotherapists and psychologists - all patients need is an internet connection. Therapists can treat a variety of conditions or concerns including anxiety, depression, grief and bereavement, and stress.