With hundreds of people getting infected and even dying due to the coronavirus, many countries have ordered a lockdown in a frantic attempt to contain the pandemic. This means that people are essentially imprisoned inside their own homes, unable to go out except for essential purchases, and remain in daily contact with a select set of people, usually family. This enforced proximity has slowed down life as we know it and has forced us to appreciate the simpler things. But there is no doubt that the coronavirus is not just affecting physical and mental health, it’s also affecting relationships for some. Around the world, many Family Law specialists are seeing an eerie similarity in the increased spread of coronavirus and divorce rates.
The adage, “familiarity breeds contempt” has risen to a new level with marital relationships suffering the most with lockdown in effect.
In the past years, divorce rates have been high right after Christmas or summer holidays when families spend a lot of time together. Baroness Fiona Shackleton, an English politician and solicitor, advised her peers in Westminster about a likely rise in divorce rates following the self-imposed confinement due to COVID-19. This is especially disturbing when seen in the light of the reports coming out of China where an increase in couples wanting to legally separate has been observed. China was the epicentre of coronavirus and the people there have been in lockdown for a longer period when compared to citizens of other countries.
Relationships that are already on a rocky footing will suffer the worst, with there being no way for a couple to take a break and chill down away from home. Couples in trouble also cannot rely on disinterested third parties like therapists to bail them out, thanks to the lockdown situation. More often, children will be faced with the brunt of the marital spat which can leave them emotionally scarred for life.
So, what does this mean? Is your relationship doomed because of some enforced and prolonged exposure to your spouse? Will coronavirus and divorce go hand-in-hand, leaving your life in shambles? Not necessarily. Here are a few tips to ensure that your marriage does not break down with the spread of this deadly virus.
Coronavirus and Divorce: How to Break the Chain
Rediscover the Magic
It is not easy to nurture love while being confined within the four walls. Nevertheless, love is all about sharing, both the good and the bad. Stop expecting perfection from your spouse; instead, start doing things together. You can try cooking a meal together and later, share it while watching a movie together. Turn your living room into a private club. Darken the room and put on some groovy music, dress up for a date and enjoy a night of dancing into the early hours with your partner.
Empathise with your Partner
It is easy to love a person who empathises with you. Try to see from your spouse’s point of view and understand his or her concerns. You need not provide a solution to all problems; what your partner might require from you might just be a listening ear and a sympathetic mind.
A Space of your Own
Human beings are social animals; nevertheless, we all need our own space. This is especially true of couples in quarantine. Find a corner of your flat or house and make it your own. Retreat to this space (it might be that comfy armchair near the window of your bedroom) for some ‘me time’. Read a book, have a cup of tea and entertain yourself. Try your hand at painting or indulge in your favourite hobby. Likewise, respect your partner’s personal space and steer clear of him/her when he/she is there.
Communication is Key
The success of any relationship lies in how well the concerned parties communicate with each other. Misunderstandings can happen, but when you are confined to your house while the world battles the deadly coronavirus, try to throw off your prejudices. Encourage a conversation with your partner; it need not be about anything serious. Casual conversations often serve to pull people together as they bond over absurdities and laugh at each other.
The Child Vote
Arguments are inevitable in every marriage. But your children need not be a witness to it. It is not easy to argue without the children around when you are all in enforced lockdown. This is where your self-control comes into play. You can also get creative while thrashing out your differences; instead of yelling at each other, you can play pranks on each other. This can ultimately lead you to rediscover the child within you and leave you with a playful spouse and a healthy marriage. If you still insist on yelling, do it via WhatsApp messages or something similar. This will prevent you from getting carried away with the argument and blurting out something that you might regret later.
Coronavirus will be defeated and overcome one day; it might not happen in a week or even in a month. But, when it does, you need to have a family life to return to, a family that is your support and the epicentre of your life. Remember that the fight against the virus does not remain confined to hospitals or research centres. Perhaps the greatest battleground is our home, because if we fail here, what will be the point of winning against the virus anywhere else?
Also read: COVID-19: How To Make Home A Stress-free Place For Your Family When “Circuit Breakers” Kick In