The coronavirus pandemic has taken a devastating toll on American lives and livelihoods, as hundreds of thousands have died while millions more are suffering from the economic impacts, including losing their jobs.
But 2020 also showed us that COVID-19 exposed the fragile state of many marriages across the country, leading a multitude of couples to re-evaluate their relationships, and in many cases, leading to divorce.
Assessing the pandemic’s effect on marriage
The past year is unlike any other in our lifetime and the virus promises to cause continuing repercussions. Couples whose marriages may have already been strained before the pandemic hit found themselves with nowhere to go due to lost jobs and stay-at-home orders. After weeks or months of having no choice but to remain in close-knit quarters, divorce became the best option for several reasons:
- Confrontation was no longer avoidable: COVID forces everyone into smaller spaces, and couples have fewer or no options for convenient distractions, such as working late, meeting friends for dinner or taking classes.
- Expressing feelings is too difficult: Many couples are unable to say how they feel about their frustrations, even those caused by the pandemic. When a lack of communication already exists, those feelings can erupt into anger and bitterness.
- Realizing their goals are different: COVID-19 forced a lot of couples to do some soul-searching, and many realized the love they felt at the beginning of the relationship was no longer enough to replace differing views on money, family and other crucial issues.
- Breaking up is better for the kids: For couples who can no longer get along, exposing their kids to constant arguing and negativity becomes too much, especially with kids learning at home and being unable to remove themselves from this environment.
- Financial strain: Money is one of the most common reasons why couples split. During COVID, these issues can magnify, whether it’s over a spouse not spending wisely or a lack of income.
Clarity can result from chaos
While COVID-19 likely adds fuel to the fire for couples experiencing marital issues, the reasons for ending a marriage remain the same as they’ve always been. While some have been able to navigate their relationships during this challenging time, others have become more convinced that their union cannot survive after spending months together at home.