Can there be a connection between the divorce rate and the coronavirus pandemic? As communities reel from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the mitigation efforts being taken across the globe, families are finding a surprising side effect for which many were unprepared. If the impacts in the United States resemble what has happened in China, we may be seeing a sharp uptick in the divorce rate.
Xi’an Divorce Rate Soars
In China, a report by the Global Times notes that in the city of Xi’an the request for divorce has spiked to record-high numbers. In fact, a number of government offices are booked up for the foreseeable future with requests for divorce. Of course, a partial explanation for the bombardment of these offices is the fact that they had all been closed for a month. Beyond that, however, sociologists are pointing to another factor that has impacted the crush of requests.
Forced Close Quarters Makes for Stress
After experiencing life in quarantine, many marriages have suffered an inordinate amount of stress. The fact of the matter is, the coronavirus itself has provoked a hefty amount of discomfort and worry among people. Add that to being housebound for days, weeks, or months at a time, and conflicts tend to rise along with the divorce rate. Here in California,, families are finding themselves spending more time at home with limited options away from one another. Social distancing, including closures of schools and workplaces, has exacerbated the sense of isolation families have from their communities. As shutdowns have grown to include sporting events, concerts, religious services, restaurants, movie theaters, and public transportation, people have no choice but to spend more time with family at home.
Dealing With the Stress
A disruption to routine can cause anyone a certain amount of stress. A disruption of the magnitude we are seeing related to the coronavirus can be exponentially more difficult because individuals will not have access to many of the usual activities used to decompress. What can you do to not become a divorce rate statistic and make the best of the difficult times? There are actually a number of strategies that can help. Understanding that stress is contagious is the first thing every couple needs to know. Handling these emotions effectively can mean the difference between contentment under pressure, and bitter feuds.
- Recognize the symptoms of stress, such as moodiness, agitation, over-eating, substance abuse, or other characteristics;
- Address behaviors you are seeing in a loving way with your partner;
- Listen to the worries and concerns of your partner without feeling obliged to “fix” the troubling issues;
- Provide comfort to your loved one, and then move into potential solutions;
- Do things together like exercising, board games, or reading aloud;
- Figure out ways to reduce stress, like taking bubble baths, trying meditation, or cleaning out cupboards;
- Continue to check in on one another’s stress level, and ask your partner how you can help things go more smoothly;
- Focus on being a person who gives rather than takes. You will find that is a good way to manage both your partner’s stress levels and your own.