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Relationship key to getting through coronavirus crisis, survey finds

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Ashley Reid and her partner Matthew Crawford got engaged in March

Ashley Reid and her partner Matthew Crawford got engaged in March

Ashley Reid and her partner Matthew Crawford got engaged in March

A new survey has revealed that most people in Northern Ireland believe being in relationships has helped them get through the coronavirus crisis.

The UK-wide survey by the charity Relate was released to mark the start of Relationships Week.

Almost 60% of those who responded from Northern Ireland agreed that having strong relationships was beneficial to their wellbeing during the lockdown.

One of those who agreed with the survey's finding was Ashley Reid (23) from Newtownabbey, who got engaged to her partner Matthew Crawford (23) shortly before the lockdown, before moving in together soon after.

The happy couple had been together for around a year-and-a-half before their engagement in early March.

They explained the time together has been extremely helpful in giving them an insight into what married life is likely to be like.

"He moved in pretty much the day lockdown was announced. My mum has a pre-existing medical condition so she would be on the vulnerable list," said Ashley.

"We didn't want to risk trying to see each other even with social distancing in place, just in case we brought anything back into the house with her there.

"We just thought it would be easier if he moved in here during lockdown so we could still see each other.

"I think especially because we had just got engaged, we couldn't go out with friends and so if we hadn't of been able to be together, it would have made it even more unusual.

"At least we could celebrate between the two of us and look forward to starting a bit of wedding planning which was something to keep us busy over lockdown."

While for some the time spent in the same space for so long might be difficult, Ashley viewed it as valuable time to get to know each another, while helping to combat the anti-social isolation of lockdown.

"It was like having one of your best friends about throughout lockdown, so you didn't necessarily miss the social life so much because you could sit and watch a movie together or have a make-do date night," she added.

"I think it has helped our relationship. It has kind of prepared us for moving into our own house together when we can and shown the reality of constantly being in each other's space.

"It certainly gave us more a realistic view of how married life is going to be in the future.

"It showed us that if we can get through being on top of each other all the time, then we will be able to cope with normal life when it comes round."

The survey also revealed that over half the respondents said that they felt closer to their parents than before lockdown.

For Ryan Magill (19) from Warrenpoint, being back home with his parents and family in a familiar environment helped him when he needed support.

The student had been living and working in Belfast when he was struck down by coronavirus and later furloughed from his job in the M&S Bureau de Change.

Persuaded to come home by his mum however, Ryan said the time he has spent back with family has been "so positive".

"I would have been happy staying up in Belfast initially," he said.

"As long as I had access to the internet I was all right.

"My mum had said then about coming home since I didn't have work.

"I thought it probably wouldn't be that bad, that we would be back in two weeks or so. I haven't been back yet.

"I would usually have come down every other weekend to visit anyway and you try and get things done and do a whole lot.

"Now that I was down here for real, there was no rush and you could just relax".

Belfast Telegraph