Across the United States, state and local governments alike have asked residents to stay inside as often as possible, for businesses to allow for employees to work from home, and for non-essential businesses to close. For spouses who are having relationship difficulties, this period of self-isolation can easily lead to divorce.
The Rise of Divorce in China During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, and the disease’s spread is slowing down in this country. Because we are in the earlier stages of this crisis, we can look at countries like China to learn what we may face once the situation begins to return to normal.
According to an article in Bloomberg, divorce rates increased significantly in China during the course of their COVID-19 lockdowns. Media reports from Chinese publications saw a surge in divorce rates during the month of March as couples emerged from self-isolation. Divorce rates in the cities of Xian and Dazhou reached record-high numbers, and the country also saw spikes in domestic violence incidents.
As the United States begins to enter more intense lockdowns to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many American lawyers expect to see divorce rates follow the same pattern as China’s. With similar self-isolation orders and tighter restrictions on leaving the house, many couples throughout this country may experience a rupture in their marriages.
How Does COVID-19 Contribute to Higher Divorce Rates?
Throughout the country, many states and local governments are requiring people who are not essential workers to stay at home as often as possible in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. For many people, staying inside for prolonged periods of time with their spouse is a new experience.
During this time, couples may feel intense stress and anxiety due to the circumstances surrounding these shelter-in-place orders. Fear of COVID-19, worry for loved ones, loss of income, or the inability to leave the house are significant stressors that can trigger disputes. With more intense and more frequent disputes, along with limited cool-off locations, relationship problems are likely to occur.
In addition, domestic violence is likely to spike in situations where couples have to self-isolate together. Abusers may feel the stress of the COVID-19 situation and experience intense feelings of rage, leading to escalating violence. Not being able to escape an abuser or seek help from others are significant stressors for many victims of abuse.
How to Handle Relationship Difficulties During COVID-19
Relationship difficulties and disputes are likely to happen during COVID-19. If you’re experiencing increased stress or animosity when engaging with your spouse, follow these tips.
- Watch how you and your partner communicate. Ordering each other to complete tasks, angry or terse tones of voice, or failure to talk at all can lead to a breakdown in the relationship. Make it a priority to communicate with kindness, patience, and understanding.
- Take time for yourself during the day for stress-relieving activities. Take a bath, read a book, listen to music, or do any activity that helps you relax. This will help reduce your stress and avoid stress-induced arguments.
- Give each other the space you need. This can be challenging in a small home or apartment, but setting up a base camp or workspace where you can be alone during the day can greatly alleviate self-isolation-related stress.
- Plan fun activities with your spouse. Host a movie night, cook each other a nice dinner, or start a project around your home to distract yourselves and strengthen your relationship.
While these tips may help relieve the stress of self-isolating with your spouse, they will not be able to solve every relationship problem. If this period of self-isolation leads to a rupture in your marriage and you are considering filing for divorce, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
It is vital to protect your assets, property, and visitation rights, especially during this tumultuous time. A divorce attorney will advocate strongly for your needs, in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. Contact an Indianapolis lawyer near you to schedule a free consultation over the phone or via video chat.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and are in self-isolation with your abuser, it is important to seek help as soon as possible by calling your local domestic violence hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).