The year 2020 has been a tough period due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have experienced financial instability, there have been riots and a very intense election year. Working from home to observe social distancing has become the new norm, and Zoom the medium for personal and professional meetings.
In some cases, couples are reporting feeling: “We are in this together,” even with all the “Covid stressors.” Before the pandemic, they used to go to work and meet after work, rushing to meet deadlines and get the kids to the next sport meet. For these couples, while they remained concerned about the virus, it has felt like a Godsend to be able to slow down a bit and have each other’s support with day to day tasks and enjoying each other’s company.
For other couples, spending more time together uncovered concerns and issues of the relationship that have been there for some time. This year has seen an upsurge in divorce cases. According to surveys, there is an increase of 34% divorces this year than in previous year, and those married for a shorter time are more at risk. The pandemic has derailed newlyweds, who traditionally spend the first year of marriage experiencing hiccups, and were geographically and socially isolated from friends and family, who normally provide the first-year support.
It is only human that when people are cramped in the same place for long, conflict is bound to happen. Therefore, marriages are under a lot of pressure as couples struggle to cope with the current conditions. They have to manage with limited resources, extra house chores, taking care of children, worrying for family and friends' health, and fear of uncertainty.
The pandemic has put tremendous pressure on couples. Simple decisions like: do we send the kids to school, visit grandparents or take a family trip have become complicated and a source of tension.
EFFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS ON RELATIONSHIPS
Covid-19 is taking a toll on all directions of life, including marriage relationships. There are several reasons why couples will fight or disagree to the point of separation or going through a divorce.
Due to the economic slump worldwide, many couples have dealt with financial instability. With the loss of resources, spouses are finding it hard to take care of their families. And with no idea how long the pandemic will last, couples are anxious. Not being able to provide as they were used is reason enough partners will result in arguing.
Human beings are social animals in nature. They enjoy going out to meet friends and socialize. But this is not happening this time due to social distancing. We are staying home to be safe and to stop the spread of the virus. When we stay at the same place for too long, interacting with the same people every day, it reaches a point where boredom kicks in, resulting in tension.
Conflicts about house chores
When the whole family is more time in the house, more chores around the house need to be done. This new lifestyle has caused couples to need to create new rules around who does what at home. The change was so abrupt that before realizing it, couples have been arguing about who does more chores.
Disagreements about Parenting
Parents may be struggling to agree on the best ways to take care of their children, keeping them safe, and agreeing on rules around Covid.
With children out of school to keep them safe, parents have an extra burden of becoming home teachers. In addition to other responsibilities, they are finding it hard to ensure that their kids are studying and helping them with assignments. This additional duty can make any parent stressed and resentful, especially if teaching is not something either partner is used to.
Lack of a support system
Meeting with friends at a café or club to vent your frustrations and wind down is no longer viable. Therefore, there are less interactions with others which provide social connecting and a distraction.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE AND NOT FALL IN THE 2020 DIVORCE STATISTICS?
Foster having different conversations. In long term relationships, we sometimes forget how to have interesting conversations that make us feel seen and understood. Checkout this article: “Relationship Savers: 50 conversation starters” for ideas.
Having arguments? Check out this article: “5 Ways to turn communication around in your relationship” on how to start changing your communication.
Break the monotony and have date nights despite social distancing. In this article: “Spice things up: 50 romantic ideas for dating your spouse,” I share over 20 ideas on how to have dates at home.
Spice up your sex life. Sex can be a great stress reliever, and this could be a great time to explore each other on an more intimate level. Here’s a blog on “How to Have a Great Sex Life in a Marriage”
Understand your partner cannot give you everything: Reach out to people who will give you the additional support you require. Even during the crisis we are in, and despite the physical distance, we can stay connected with other people.
Stay in touch with friends and family: Being restricted from traveling to meet family and friends does not mean you can’t stay in touch with them. Use online platforms such as video calls as well as phone calls. Talking with other people and knowing how they are doing helps to worry less about them.
Be understanding: Partners may perceive the current situation differently and this doesn’t imply that one of you is wrong. Partners should allow each other to express their thoughts and opinions. Consider each other’s opinions and agree on what will work best, and if needed reach to a compromise.
For more tips on a how to build a satisfying marriage, click my blog on "20 Tips for a Satisfying Marriage"
Understanding that part of the increased dissatisfaction in your relationship is due to the stressors caused by Covid can help normalize where you are, and it can also create a more realistic idea that the issues in the marriage were already there. So, there are two factors to address: 1) how to cope with Covid, and 2) the concerns in the relationship overall.
This has not been an easy time for most of us. I hope this can give you some clarity for your relationship. Wondering the health of your relationship? Check out this QUIZ for personalized results and for more FREE tips.
Your therapy friend,
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