From world economies to married life, the experts tell us that the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare existing problems, tearing off bandaids to reveal unhealed and even festering wounds. For many couples, a split during the pandemic is inevitable and right, while for others, a few painless measures are all that’s needed to keep your marriage strong through these trying times.
The Pandemic is Taking a Toll on Marriages and Relationships
Generally speaking, most divorces stem from one of the following:
- Feelings that the two are growing apart
- Repeated conflict
- Caught lying
- Substance abuse by one or both spouses
- Disagreement over how to raise children
For many, particularly those who have led lives of relative comfort fairly free of hardships, the pandemic has proved the first real stress test for life, work, and family. Some couples are really seeing their partner react to serious stress for the first time and not liking what they’re seeing.
But more commonly, the pandemic and associated lockdowns in many cities and states are keeping couples closer than they ever expected, or maybe ever wanted, to be. For married couples who both work full time, they might really only see each other for a few hours a day plus weekends. In 2020, that increased to 24/7.
Learning to live with someone full time all the time is not always what people signed up for when they got married, but it’s a pretty accurate preview of what the retirement years are going to look like (minus the stress of taking care of the kids while also working from home).
Looking at the Numbers
Before the pandemic, roughly one half of all American marriages ended up divorce. According to one legal expert, that number increased by a third just in the first month of lockdowns!
More worrying, reports of domestic violence increased by nearly 10 percent during the same period. Click here to read up on some lesser-known divorce statistics that may surprise you.
In both instances, domestic violence and divorce initiations, there is often a correlation between increased external stresses and one or both partners re-projecting that stress onto one another.
So, as a dedicated spouse who wants to keep their marriage as divorce-proofed as possible, what can you do to ensure things don’t get out of hand while we are still living through this pandemic?
Communication is Priority #1
Most big fights that don’t involve something obvious like cheating or lying tend to come as a result of a series of built-up small things that evolve into bigger things over time. Letting your spouse know right away, in the nicest way possible, when something bothers you will save you time and pain down the line.
This also means being a good listener. Don’t talk over or interrupt your spouse. Hear them out, be an active listener, and offer positive responses, especially when they raise concerns.
Set Aside Couple’s Time
Especially if you are living with kids, it is critical that you find time besides bedtime to be alone together doing some special. Whether it’s a romantic moment, doing exercise or running together, or doing some stress-free cooking to try out new dishes, do something together and something fun that doesn’t involve kids, friends, or another family.
Keep Things Interesting
Don’t get stuck in an old and boring routine. Find ways to surprise your spouse every day, or at least once a week. This might mean little presents, thoughtful gestures, breakfasts in bed, or ordering flowers. The thought is what counts, so show your love, don’t just tell.
Stay Fit and Don’t Get Sloppy
An increasing reason for divorce that we are starting to see more and more of in the pandemic is spouses losing sexual attraction to their partner. Some of that may be inevitable, it may be aging, or it may mean that you two just weren’t all that right for each other.
But a lot of it is under your control. We all joke about the fact that no one is wearing pants on the conference call, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to give up showering. Personal hygiene is important to maintain during the pandemic, and it’s really not just for you.
The same goes for keeping up physical health as well as appearances. Body positivity is great, but if you’ve gained thirty pounds during the pandemic, now is the time to lose it. If you don’t feel motivated to do it for yourself, do it for your partner.
Be Willing to Compromise
This might be the oldest advice in the book for new couples, but it never gets old. Compromise is the key to a long-lasting relationship, even if you do believe in soul mates and think you agree (or should agree) on everything.
While it’s important to set boundaries through good communication (see priority #1 above), you also need to be willing to let some things go and accept imperfections here and there.