Brexit arguments causing rifts between couples, counsellors say

The UK was bitterly divided by the momentous referendum decision 

Will Worley
Friday 30 December 2016 01:18 GMT
Brexit was mentioned in almost one in five relationship counselling sessions (file photo)
Brexit was mentioned in almost one in five relationship counselling sessions (file photo) (iStockphoto)

Arguments about Brexit may have split the nation but they are also causing relationship rifts as couples fight about the EU referendum result.

Troubled couples seeking help from Relate's relationship counselling services discussed difficulties with communication, their sex lives, affairs and mental health problems.

But around fifth of the 300 relationship support practitioners surveyed by the charity, said they had worked with clients who argued over Brexit.

“Arguments over Brexit, who to vote for and other topical debates can bring up underlying issues within the relationship as they highlight where couples have a lack of shared values," said Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh.

“Our values are hugely important to us so when our partners don’t agree with them it can feel quite concerning. Despite this, some difference in beliefs and values can be a healthy thing as it can help to keep things interesting and help us to see things from a different perspective.

“It’s a real testament to a couple’s relationship if they can accept differences of opinion on topics they feel strongly about.

Mr Singh said he had seen several clients in 2016 who mentioned Brexit in counselling sessions. The momentous decision to leave the EU was “causing anxiety about the future”, which was putting pressure on relationships, he added.

“In other cases, whether to leave or remain has been the only thing the couple can agree on," he said. "In my experience, Brexit hasn’t been the main reason for couples attending counselling in the first place but they’ve brought up the topic in our sessions.

“In many cases Brexit has simply added fuel to an existing fire – couples will mention how their partner voted in the EU referendum as an example of how ‘you never listen to me’, ‘I don’t feel understood’, ‘you don’t value my opinions’, ‘you always want to do your own thing’.

“If a couple brings up Brexit in the counselling room, our job is to widen out the conversation to talk about their values, how to resolve arguments and how to listen to one another.”

Press Association contributed to this report.

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