How the Pandemic Negatively Affected Marriages in the UK
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone. But how is this stress affecting marriages? Some marriages are stronger than ever, finding that they can depend on their partners to help navigate these uncertain times. But other marriages are struggling to cope with what has become our new normal. Overall, divorce rates are up, both globally and in the UK. Whether the impacts of social distancing and lockdown have been more positive or more negative on relationships, we can’t deny that the Covid-19 global pandemic is affecting marriages. This is evidenced by the fact that marriage and relationship counseling is on the rise across the world. All of this added stress and limited space is causing many couples to examine their relationships closely, often with the help of a trained professional.
Pandemic lockdown life has restricted our lives to much smaller spaces. Many people are no longer going into the office or school, and are instead living the majority of their lives at home. This restriction of space can be challenging to manage for couples. With social distancing, spouses often become the major source of social interaction for their partners. This lack of social interaction and lack of privacy can affect introverted and extroverted spouses differently. Extroverted spouses miss social interaction with coworkers, friends, family, and even random people on the street. Extroverts can recharge their energy by spending time with other people, and without this socialization, they are more likely to feel lonely and stressed. Introverts recharge their energy by spending time alone. But lockdown has made this alone time challenging for introverts because they are at home all day with their spouse. This can lead introverts to feel stressed because they feel trapped like they can’t get away from their partner. Although the causes of their stress may be different, all couples are affected by the lack of space and socialization created by the lockdown.
Character & Habits of Our Spouse Are Greatly Magnified in A Negative Way
Many couples realized how different they are during the lockdown. One partner may have taken Covid-19 safety precautions like social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands frequently, more seriously than their partner. For many couples, not being on the same page about health and safety caused a lot of lockdown fights. This was intensified by the fact that once a fight was initiated, there was nowhere to go to escape your partner to cool off and gain perspective. This lack of space also amplified negative traits in spouses. Almost 25% of people reported during lockdown that they found their partner to be more irritating. Quirky ticks that may normally be annoying, like chewing loudly or messiness, suddenly became unbearable when you are exposed to them all day every day. With no time away to allow you to miss your partner, annoying behavior can seem insufferable.
Stress with Homeschooling and Caring for Children in the UK
Married couples with children experienced an added layer of difficulty with lockdown because they were now responsible for homeschooling their children. This challenged couples differently depending on their unique situations. Essential workers now needed to find safe childcare so that they could continue working outside the home. Those who were now working from home had to balance their workload with managing their child’s education. Stay-at-home parents were now facing the added challenge of homeschooling, and trying to find the space and time to allow everyone in the home to get their work done with minimal distractions. A disproportionate amount of the added responsibility of homeschooling, childcare, and housework fell on women. There is a strong possibility that this inequality of responsibility in the home is a reason why 76% of new divorces were filed by women, up from 60% the prior year.
Mental Health Struggles In A Marriage
Mental health struggles have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and this can place additional stress on marriages. Partners with preexisting conditions like depression or anxiety are likely experiencing an increase in their symptoms. This can place additional stress on the marriage as they may rely more on their spouse for support, or they may behave in negative ways that are out of character from their typical personality. Mental health struggles affect everyone in the home. Partners who may have been able to manage their conditions, or hide them from their partner or children, now have nowhere to turn when they need a little space. Partners who may have never experienced mental health struggles before may find themselves triggered by the stress of the pandemic and now have to try to learn healthy ways to cope with this added stress.
How the Pandemic Strengthened Marriages in the UK
While the pandemic has been stressful for everyone, some couples have found their relationships to be stronger now than ever. In a survey, 8% of couples reported that the pandemic made them realize that they needed to break up, but 43% of couples reported that lockdown brought them closer together. Couples that already had strong lines of communication found that they could rely on each other to get through the pandemic together. Underlying issues in relationships may have been amplified during this time, but underlying strengths were also amplified. Couples who reported that their relationships were stronger now are people who felt that their relationship was already strong before the pandemic. Couples who had been together for a long time and had many years of experience with managing conflict by strengthening lines of communication, or those who had already navigated extremely stressful situations together, were better poised for success going into the pandemic. Couples that already had underlying issues, or who hadn’t been together very long were at a disadvantage as the stress of the pandemic tended to bring these weaknesses in the relationship into the spotlight.
Increased Quality Time Together In A Marriage
There’s no denying that these have been challenging times for everyone. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but couples with healthy communication and strong conflict resolution skills have found that this time in lockdown has provided them with more time to grow even closer together. Even the darkest situations can have a silver lining, and some couples have been able to find this together during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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