Coronavirus Impact on Marriage
The outbreak of COVID-19 has put a tremendous amount of stress on everyone and every aspect of our lives. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions, especially in marriages. As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked underlying conflicts. There are number of factors that contribute to the stress on a marriage:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Worsening of chronic health problems or mental health conditions
- Use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs
- Financial stress
These dynamics, combined with confinement, are pushing some marriages to a legal and physical breaking point. The tension bred by forced proximity is only one reason for a spike in marital problems during the COVID-19 crisis. It may also be due to the fact that people are coming to terms with their mortality and want to make positive changes in their lives.
This abrupt and drastic lifestyle change may be causing more harm than good for couples already dealing with conflict in marriage. When people, who once had busy lives and a stable routine, find themselves attempting to adjust to such a new way of life, it can leave them in a state of anxiety. This is particularly true for the working parents who may not be used to spending extended periods of time with their spouse and kids.
Ways to Manage Stress
When experiencing strong emotions, such as fear, anxiety, frustration related to health threats and social and economic consequences of COVID-19, there are steps you can take to lessen such stress both in the short-and long-term.1
- Realize that it is understandable to feel anxious and worried about what may happen, especially when many aspects of life are uncertain or have changed.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings are tolerable and will fade.
- Accept, instead of suppress emotions, and “ride the wave” of strong feelings by observing how they show up in your body without judgment.
- If you find that you are getting stressed by watching the news, reduce your exposure, particularly prior to sleep.
- Relax your body and mind: practice slow, steady breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as any other soothing actions – meditation, yoga, exercise, walking, music or reading for pleasure.
- Maintain a sense of hope; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.
Remember, it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. But, it’s never a good idea to make life changing decisions while under duress.
It’s safe to say some couples may be more than ready for divorce by the end of an imposed quarantine. While access to courts is now limited to due to the precautions for stopping the spread of COVID-19, Alternative Divorce Resolutions (ADR) may be an ideal solution. There are three process options that provide alternatives to a litigated divorce. They are mediation, negotiated settlement, and collaborative divorce. Each of these options offers healthier and less toxic alternatives to the traditional divorce proceedings.
For a free video consultation to discuss your options call us at 516-308-2922.
1. By Korte, K.J., Denckla, C.A., Ametaj, A.A, & Koenen, K.C. at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.