Divorce rates are skyrocketing during COVID-19 according to Daily Mail. They state, “compared to 2019, 16% more couples pursued a divorce after only five years of marriage or less.” What could be causing this increase? Below are five reasons why divorce rates are increasing in 2020.
External factors have a lot to do with divorce rates increasing, according to Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D., a social psychologist and associate professor at Loyola University Maryland. DiDonato notes that many unhappy married couples had sufficient distractions, but with social isolation and quarantine, it became harder to ignore. She also states that “[Extenral stressors] harm some romantic couples more than others. External stressors can make it hard for some couples to engage in adaptive dyadic processes (e.g., responsiveness, support).
Many people list their reasons for divorce as infidelity, lack of commitment, or even money issues. However, Erin Levine, family law attorney and founder of Hello Divorce, says that these problems that are listed are rooted in a breakdown of communication.
It might seem that couples would be forced to over-communicate during the quarantine, but that isn’t always the case. Some couples shut down and couldn’t communicate their frustrations and stress, while others had a build-up of issues that came to a head during the stay at home order.
Lack of emotional support
Emotional availability and vulnerability are important in a relationship when you want to feel closer to someone. However, when communication needs are not met, people “criticize or get angry or make demands. Nobody wants to be around that or that energy,” Levine states. Cohen notes that when women feel underappreciated and disrespected, it can be difficult to pair together emotionally.
Lack of emotional support may stem from overarching anxiety and depression that exists with living in a pandemic. According to Dillon Browne, Ph.D., emotional exhaustion usually arises after a period of stress. Therefore, it is important to manage our stress levels as well as our emotional wellbeing for our mental health. Browne suggests reducing stress through making healthy lifestyle changes (limiting alcohol and tobacco, eating healthy, staying hydrated), making clear boundaries between work and personal life, practice mindfulness, and connect with others.)
Disagreements about money (how you spend it, save it, or make it) may be a slippery slope for a divorce. Cohen notes that over time, the strain can be almost unbearable. There are many financial situations that can be off-putting such as dealing with gambling addictions, debt, and retail therapy.
During the pandemic, money may put a strain on certain marriages. Not knowing exactly where your next paycheck is coming from and/or engaging in retail therapy may cause tension leading to a divorce.
Lack of physical connection and sexual intercourse in the bedroom may cause a rift in a relationship. While dry spells are normal and nothing to be embarrassed about, not having any type of physical affection can make one person feel like they are not good looking or desirable anymore. Some people may tell themselves that they are able to handle the lack of intimacy, but, as Levine puts it, “ultimately it just becomes too much for them.”
In the pandemic, it may be hard to create intimacy when you spend all day at home with your spouse. You might be laying around in pajamas all day and it could be hard to feel desirable. Lack of intimacy may also stem from quarantine fatigue as well as “Zoom fatigue.” To combat Zoom fatigue, Harvard Business Review suggests taking breaks, avoid multitasking, reduce on-screen stimuli, or even turning Zoom meetings into emails or phone calls.
Action: What You Can Do to Prevent Divorce
Susan Heitler Ph.D., the author of books such as From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two, suggests these tips to help couples.
Smother the urge to play the victim
“Remind yourself of the positive qualities you can bring to a marriage, and figure out how to show them in their full colors,” Heitler advises. Playing the victim and trying to guilt your partner may lead to divorce or a depressed partner.
Clarify what you need to change
Sometimes, we have toxic behaviors we need to change. “The behaviors won’t always have an easily identifiable source,” Heitler says. “But the more effectively you can identify where or why you might have learned certain negative behaviors, the more effectively you will be able to let go of them and replace each habit with a far better one.”
Feel and look your best — inside and out
Put your best foot forward by feeling and looking good. “Appearance—both the effort you put into how you look and how you feel about how you look—can be a huge factor in rekindling romantic feelings and, ultimately, stopping a divorce,” Hetiler says.
Resolve the past, & let go of resentment
If you or your partner are still resentful about that one moment six years ago, try to go over hurtful moments from the past and resolve any remaining issues. “Aim to understand what you did that inadvertently contributed to the problem. Apologize for it. Then, figure out what you can do differently in the future to prevent any repeats.” Heitler says.
Believe in yourself + have good self-esteem
Have enough self-confidence to run independently on your own. Determination and self-confidence feel strong enough for you to rely on them.
Learn the essential skills for a good relationship
- Talking together cooperatively
- Making win-win decisions together
- Preventing anger from spoiling your relationship
- Pumping up the positivity you emanate to each other