Avoiding a Divorce in the Age of COVID-19: It's Make or Break Time

With COVID-19 still in the air, and local lockdowns taking place across the country, there’s never been a better time to assess the strength of your marriage. Will it hold up?

The coronavirus lockdown has put a strain on relationships and pushed marriages to their limit, with the number of divorces already rising in the UK.

Being locked away with your spouse for an extended period of time can cause cracks in your relationship. If these aren’t properly addressed, you might end up seeking the assistance of divorce lawyers to put an end to your marriage.

In this post, we’re going to give you some figures on just how many marriages have been ended by the lockdown, and share the reasons why it’s causing couples to seek divorce. We’ll then give you some tips to prevent it from happening to you, so let’s get into it….

Is Divorce on the Rise Due to COVID-19?

Before we get into the reasons why divorce is on the rise during the pandemic, we’re going to share the stats on how many people are getting divorced during the pandemic.

According to testimony from a number of different law firms in the UK, divorce inquiries have risen over 40 percent since the pandemic started. Usually, the only time an increase like this happens is around Christmas because of all the holiday arguments. It seems there’s a running them of being stuck in close quarters with your other half, here!

In a statement to the press, Co-op legal services said it had personally witnessed a 42 percent rise in divorce inquiries between March and mid-May, compared to the same period last year. These increases are quite staggering, but the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has gone one step further by claiming that an extra 38,346 couples might file for divorce before 2020 ends.

One sentiment that seems to crop up throughout these divorce cases is that the couples never expected it because everything was going well before lockdown. To understand why these marriages ended, we’re going to share some reasons in the next section.

What are the Reasons for Divorce During the Pandemic?

If you’re looking to save your marriage, it’s a good idea to understand the reasons why it might be failing before you decide to employ solutions. Here are some of the most common reasons for divorce in the COVID-19 era:

1. Stark change in routine

One of the most obvious reasons why your marriage might end in divorce during the pandemic is because of the change in your routine. Julia Keys, co-author of The MANScript, told The Express news site: “Being in close proximity with a loved one, which is not your normal routine, can put untold strain on your relationship.

“Moods can fluctuate, tensions can run high and the need for personal space becomes an irritant that can fuel arguments.”

Basically, being on top of each other all the time is unusual if you’re used to spending most of the day apart. You can get in each other’s way, get on each other’s nerves and run out of things to talk about if you spend all your time with each other. 

2. One spouse becomes reliant on the other

When you’re both fit, healthy and working in an equal partnership, there aren’t any issues with the roles you both perform. 

However, with people being laid off work or put on furlough, the dynamic can easily shift and leave one partner looking after the family whilst the other has nothing to do. This shift can easily cause arguments and end in divorce if it isn’t addressed.

3. Unable to stay with friends and relatives

Another common reason for people getting divorced during the pandemic are the rules around seeing friends and family from other households.

With new restrictions being applied to local areas every week, some people aren’t able to visit their relatives or friends to get a break from their spouse. Of course, you can meet a family member for a coffee, but you can’t stay at their house to get a real break.

Not being able to get this much-needed space from your spouse may only make the problems you’re having worse. Getting some time away to talk the issues over with your family and friends can give you new perspective and relieve pressure to reduce your chances of divorce.

4. Financial troubles

One of the most common causes of relationship breakdown and divorce are financial issues. A study by the market research company Pipslay revealed that 39 percent of families in the UK have applied for, or are planning to apply for, unemployment benefits. 

54 percent of the people surveyed in Pipslay’s study said they had either entirely lost their income or had taken a significant pay cut since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In fact, 156,000 people in the UK were made redundant between April and June this year, which is the sharpest quarterly increase since the 2008 financial crisis. The 2008 crisis caused approximately 13 divorces every hour in the UK, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest a similar trend for this pandemic.

Tips for Avoiding Divorce in the Age of COVID-19

Now that we have the divorce figures and the reasons why they’re increasing in our minds, it’s time to give you some tools to help you avoid becoming another statistic. Some of these top tips include:

1. Compare your schedules every day

In order to avoid getting under each other’s feet and causing arguments, it’s a good idea to compare your schedules in the morning. This can not only help you understand what obligations you each have during the day, it can help you to schedule in time together and apart. Some tips for getting this right could include:

  • If one of you has a zoom meeting and needs the bandwidth, the other should probably avoid playing online games, streaming TV or anything else that takes up a lot of memory.
  • If your partner is working from home and you’re playing music or watching something that might distract them from some important work, wear earbuds.
  • If you’re in a scenario where both of you have lost your jobs, draw up a schedule of things to do around the house or tasks you can perform separately to get some time apart.
  • Similarly, if one, or both, of you are super busy, make sure to schedule some time for each other during the day.

If either of your schedules change, make sure to let your partner know so you can keep on top of where you both are.

2. Respect the work environment

Learning to work from home is something a lot of us have had to get used to. Because we’re sat in our own homes, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a work environment, but you have to find a way to treat it like one. You can do this by following these ideas:

  • If either you or your spouse has an office in the home, the other should respect it and not pop in for a chat every five minutes.
  • If the two of you share a workspace, make sure you keep it tidy and be respectful of your spouse’s space. Make sure to do this nicely, though; don’t let the mess slowly get to you and then blow up in your partners face about it.
  • Scheduling regular breaks where you can meet in the kitchen for a coffee and a chat, or sit in the garden for 15 minutes, will quell the urge to disrespect the work environment.

Most of these reasons on their own are unlikely to cause divorce, unless you are really anal about your work environment. However, when they compound together or over time, they can become relationship ending problems. 

3. Plan an in-house date

On the subject of planning scheduled breaks with each other, planning a whole in-house date is a great way to keep the flame alive.

If you’re the kind of couple who used to go out a lot, or even just go on dates once a fortnight, you might not realise how important those little outings were until they were gone. 

Depending on where you live, or how scared you are of catching the virus, you’re probably even able to go to restaurants again. So, book that table and save your marriage.

4. Plan time apart

If you want to stave off divorce, it’s crucial that you plan some time apart, even if it’s just so you don’t become too co-dependent. Make the most of the restrictions lifting and go out for a coffee or a drink with your friends to blow off steam. Just be sure to schedule in time for friends and other family, if not to get some space, but also to get a change of scenery to improve your mood.

5. Create a budget

This is the only way you’re going to get beyond any financial trouble that might end in divorce. If one of you has lost their job or taken a pay cut, and you can no longer make ends meet, setting up a budget will help you to keep your life stable.

Factor in everything you currently spend money on, and be harsh about the things you have to cut. That said, don’t be so harsh that you cut out something you enjoy doing together. Times are hard at the moment, but being open about how much money you have and agreeing on how it should be spent will curb a lot of potential arguments and could save you from divorce.

6. Make yourselves useful

As we mentioned in the previous section, the relationship dynamic can shift if one of you can no longer perform their usual duties.

If one of you has lost their job, it’s imperative that you find something useful to do. Sitting around the house all day waiting to come off furlough or for job interviews to materialise will only cause depression and resentment. 

Perhaps you could start doing little jobs around the house, helping the kids with their homework, or even try your hand at gardening. You could even throw yourself into a hobby; anything that keeps idleness at bay will do. 

Will my Marriage Survive the Pandemic?

Today, we’ve given you the stats on increased divorce during the pandemic, shared the most common reasons for this rise, and given you some tips on how to prevent it from happening to your marriage. 

Whether your marriage lasts until the end of this pandemic, only time will tell. But, planning ahead and making sure to follow the tips above as closely as possible will give you the best chance of succeeding.

Thank you for reading this post, and good luck with your marriage in these difficult times. Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any more to add!

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