Whether you are single, in a relationship, divorced, or married, this past year has not been easy. With restaurants, cinemas, malls, bars, gyms, kid zones, and places of worship being shut down; in some countries going on a year now, our escapes have been reduced to homes or gardens. Things that we used to do on a daily basis that seemed as a right to us have transformed into luxuries at this point. I have heard complaints from all types of people during this confinement period. Each relationship status has its own complications. However, are there any positive things that we can get from being trapped in a home with ourselves or loved ones?
Couples in relationships or married have really gone through a ringer this year. If there were any cracks in the relationship prior to Covid-19, the pandemic has created even greater rifts. According to Ms. Moric at legaltemplate.net, by April 2020, an interest into divorce had increased by 34% in the US and an interest in separation increased by 57% compared with the same time period in 2019. Newlywed couples were hit the worst. An extraordinary, 20% of couples who had been married for five months or less sought divorce during this time period, compared with only 11% in 2019. This could be explained by the fact that new couples were less equipped dealing with the environmental stressors that came alone with the pandemic. Normally, couples that have children under 18 are less likely to get divorced however, during this crisis a whopping 45% of couples with kids actually signed and completed a divorce agreement compared to 5% last year in the US.
If these are some of the dramatic statistics for married couples that were able to be collected, imagine what has happened to couples that are not married. There are no statistics right now to show any damages that have affected these couples but I am sure in the years to come they will exist. So, what are some of the reasons that couples are having such a hard time? Therapists generally say that financial stress, child rearing, and delegation of household tasks are the major reasons for conflict in relationships. During this pandemic the external factors really touched upon these three basic issues and exasperated them.
Couples are not the only ones that are suffering this year. Individuals are finding this time extremely difficult because they feel isolated from the world. Normally, you go out to parties or bars and you have the possibility to meet a potential partner. Since that has been taken away, individuals feel like they don’t have opportunities to meet new people and share their lives with someone which causes feelings of hopelessness. Grandparents that are single or have lost their partners are obliged to stay indoors and alone. They can’t see their friends, children, or grandchildren. They are in constant fear of getting sick and dying. Loneliness has become a major factor in the deterioration of mental health.
Financial stress has affected millions of people. Businesses are shutting down, people are taking pay cuts, and some lost their jobs. The media talks about statistics, but behind those numbers are real people and their families. People that are trying to figure out how they will survive this global economic crisis. So, it’s only normal for a couple to feel an enormous amount of stress about this topic and unfortunately it manifests in the form of blame and outbursts. Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., professor of sociology states “that when people are experiencing greater stress from sources external to a relationship, they struggle more to problem-solve within their relationships, and may inadvertently take out this stress on each other “.
During this pandemic schools have been either shut down, having class via computer, or a hybrid of the two. Some European countries have completely shut down school for months! Parents have had to become teachers and babysitters, all while trying to juggle their other responsibilities. Everyone has entered new territory including the teachers. Trying to create lesson plans that are transversal and parent “friendly” via media is difficult. Parents having to sit with their kids and doing subjects that they haven’t done in over 20 years is mind-numbing. Trying to keep up with the amount of homework that is given to the pupils is overwhelming. Then, to add on to that there are different parenting styles. Some parents are stricter than others and have their own values and systems in place. Pre-pandemic, daily routines were a part of life and couples were equipped to handle them. Post-pandemic, couples have had to figure out who takes reins of the children while the other parent works. Now, however, it’s a new ball game. Yes, slowly things are starting to “normalize” in the world but the damage is done.
Which leads us to the final straw on the camel’s back. The delegation of household tasks: who cleans what, who minds the kids, and how can one parent get an hour of peace and quiet? This I believe, is a huge factor in why couples are having issues. People didn’t really realize the freedom of having kids at school, with a nanny, or going to work. These days it’s hard not to hold a grudge at your partner if they get a moment of down time and you don’t. Having one child is difficult enough as it, but having multiple is chaotic at times.
I find that couples are having a really rough time figuring out how to manage taking care of all their parental responsibilities in an equal fashion. This is where the disbalance and arguments come in. For example, if one person has to go to the office and the other one can work from home, they are the ones that normally have to tend to the kids or one parent works in the other room while the other is with the children. There are many versions of this scenario. Even if both parents are doing their duties, by the time the children are in bed they have a couple of hours of downtime and the last thing that either person wants to do is work on their couple because they are exhausted and just want to be alone. This creates alienation, dysfunction, and resentment.
So how can people stay mentally healthy in these times? For individuals that are alone or in a couple without kids; take this time to introspect and work on previous issues that have blocked you from being the best you. Try finding zoom groups that will be a support system. Talk to your therapist. Meet people on social applications. Call or facetime your grandchildren as much as possible. Couples that have children should try to remember that even though these times are difficult, it won’t be forever. Children are happy to be spending this time with you and the moments that you are sharing now wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Children will remember being with their mom and dad and there is nothing better for a child’s development that having their parents present in their lives.
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