For the uninitiated, divorce rate and Covid-19 might sound mutually exclusive.
But as the world grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic, daily life has been turned upside-down.
People across the globe have been confronted with unprecedented and unimaginable changes and must now navigate myriad unforeseen stressors, unforeseen circumstances ,from the obvious health concerns, increase in anxiety to financial uncertainty.
However, one aspect of life that has not yet been fully unpacked is how this public health crisis is putting pressure on marriages.
Whether a couple has enjoyed a stable and happy married life, or their relationship was on shaky ground prior to the pandemic, countless triggers have emerged that will surely test many couples’ resolve and may also cause a spurt in lack of intimacy.
And while these effects have not yet been studied extensively, all of this begs the question: will COVID-19 cause the divorce rate to spike? Does this mean a major shift in the current divorce rate in America?
Can divorce cases spike due to Coronavirus Quarantine?
As we adjust to this “new normal,” many couples have had to adapt to working from home, not having enough space, feeling overwhelmed, home schooling their children, and adopting new hygiene habits amidst limited resources.
Anxiety has permeated every facet of our environment
According to experts, stress overload can result from couples having reduced physical and social contact with others and being unable to participate in day-to-day activities such as shopping without worrying about social distancing.
The December 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has created an environment of fear and panic for couples who may be facing quarantine (and stigma from it), frustration, boredom, and financial losses.
During a recent counseling session, Alyssa, 42, put it like this, “I own a children’s clothing store that has been shut down and Ryan is a manager of a local restaurant that just closed its doors. Since the Coronavirus hit, we’re both working at home and Ryan’s really on my last nerve.”
Ryan responds, “We have no idea when we’ll go back to work and bills are piling up. Plus, we’re
supposed to home school our two kids and they’re not really cooperating. We’re all going stir-crazy and the tension between Alyssa and me is rubbing off on our kids!”
Will COVID-19 cause a rise in divorce rates?
Everywhere you turn there are warning signs that marriages will suffer and divorce rates will go up dramatically due to a Coronavirus pandemic which had a disastrous impact on China, the first country to impose lockdowns.
Then as China began easing restrictions, it recorded an unprecedented surge in divorce rates.
According to a Chinese tabloid, Global Times, officials observed a rapid rise in divorce rate in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, where more than ten million people were locked down.
Even in the best of times, balance and fulfillment in a relationship is difficult to achieve.
But with the ever-expanding set of stressors creeping into our lives, and with “stay at home” and or quarantine orders across the globe creating a new and precarious dynamic for households, many couples would be well-served by trying to unite around their common concerns, and not driving up the divorce rates, adding to the existing devastation.
Fostering a safe space where you and your partner can turn to each other for support and a sense of companionship will be a key to helping you weather the storm — no matter how long your routines and the reassuring minutiae of daily life remains interrupted.
How to sustain marriages during global coronavirus outbreak
One recent article by counselor, David Essel on marriage.com stands out among the somewhat limited resources available to couples, offering practical advice on how partners can sustain their marriages and avoid the spurt in the divorce rate, in this new world.
Starting with a suggestion that couples create a list of concerns and ways to potentially
mitigate their worries, Essel provides tips such as limiting conversations about Coronavirus, giving your partner space to vent, and working together to develop techniques to deal with your immediate and extended families.
Structure your days. For instance, getting dressed and starting with a brisk walk and a healthy breakfast will jumpstart your brain and increase your energy. Allow time each day for work and play.
Include self-care activities such as yoga, reading, taking an on-line class, and talking to a friend (even if it’s quick phone call or virtual chat) can renew your perspective.
Go outside every day. Whether it’s gardening, walking your dog, or going for a walk, make sure to breathe in fresh air and count up five positive things that you’ve done every day (such as walking).
Make the small moments of connection count with your partner. According to The Penn State University research team actions speak louder than words when it comes to expressing love. “We found that behavioral actions—rather than purely verbal expressions—triggered more consensus as indicators of love.”
For instance, leaving a love note or making coffee for your partner may be more important than giving them a compliment.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW has been a therapist and relationship expert for over 30 years. Her work focuses on helping individuals, couples, and families become more resilient, build stronger relationships and marriages, and recover after break-up and divorce. She is a contributor to nine websites including The Gottman Institute Relationship Blog and the author of the award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents Breakup and Enjoy a Happy Long-lasting Relationship.
Terry?s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020. Follow Terry at her website.