The New York Post, Fox News, the Washington Post and other news sources are reporting surges in divorce inquiries in the United States since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the mandate to shelter in place. Divorce rates in China and in Turkey have spiked since the coronavirus induced lockdown and the post trauma of the pandemic.
Couples everywhere are experiencing stress and increased conflict. And understandably so.
Couples are spending more time together. Involuntarily. While in the midst of trauma.
People have been impacted on every front.
Many have experienced job loss and personal wealth loss – one source reports that personal worth has dropped by approximately 30 percent since the pandemic. Finances effect our feelings of safety and stability and when we feel less safe and less stable we feel more stress and act short-tempered and disconnected.
Children are learning from home, there are no extended family or friends to visit and no activities for children outside the home, to divert their attention. Parents are stressed because now they have to play teacher as well as parent and also must help their children manage their feelings of sadness and loss.
Loved ones are sick or in danger of getting sick.
Church communities are closed. Spiritual support is not as accessible as before.
Social support is available solely via social media or by phone.
All of this is incredibly psychologically disorienting. Common feelings include: fear, loneliness, sadness, anger, confusion, and aimlessness.
All major areas of functioning have been impacted: Social, Occupational, and Psychological.
Thus, relationships are understandably impacted as well.
Couples are discovering the holes in their relationship which were there pre-pandemic. They are discovering that their partner is not as aware of their children’s needs as they are. They are discovering their partner has a strange way of managing work stress or is “that” type of employee. They are faced with new tensions of break-free childcare and eduction, and financial impact. They are faced with old tensions and unresolved past hurts, which they used to just sweep under the rug when both were employed and life was saturated with social and school activities.
This is why marriage is feeling extra hard these days.
This is normal. But it doesn’t make it less difficult.
Here are some things you can do to help your marriage survive this pandemic:
First, take a breath. You are going through a lot. And this is really, really hard. Give yourself empathy and space to feel your feelings.
Next, remember: This too shall pass. It always does. This is uncharted territory but your journey through it will come to an end and you will be on the other side one day, jumping for joy and celebrating the life you got to keep.
Finally, PROTECT your marriage.
Personal awareness – Check in with yourself. Take ownership of your reactions and moods. Set a therapy appointment if needed, engage in prayer, mediation, and self care. Become aware of where you are emotionally, become aware of what you need and what you can give today.
Routine – Make a schedule or outline a routine together with your partner and stick to it. Wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time. Limit work to work hours only. Still have dinner at dinner time and lunch at lunch time. Shower daily. Engage in your daily spiritual practices.
Outside time – Go outside together. Walk, run, sit, garden, do yard work, anything. Just get some fresh air into your lungs and some sunlight on your skin. Do this together as often as possible.
Talk to each other about your relationship weekly. Call it the State of the Union conversation to make it more official. And use the time to check in and find out how your partner is feeling about the relationship. You have a lot of time now. Use it to really talk to one another.
Engage your partner. Don’t just act like ships passing in the night. Actually make eye contact with your spouse, give them a kiss or a hug, express your love for them. Joke with each other. Flirt with each other. Plan out where you are going to go as soon as the shelter in place is lifted. Dream together. Connect authentically.
Clear Boundaries – Say when you need alone time, ask for what you need. Don’t take on the whole of the household duties alone. Let your partner lovingly know what you need.
Technology limits. Instead attend to your spiritual and psychological health. Read a good article, pray, meditate, sing your favorite song, exercise to your favorite online trainer.
As you can see most of these pertain to personal integrity. If you take care of yourself, attend to your responsibilities, check your moods, ask for what you need and intentionally connect with your spouse, your marriage will reap the benefits.
Your marriage is the most important relationship in your life. Protect it with all your might.
And hang on, dear friend, we will get through this.