By Ellen Barron Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is your opinion? Will there be more divorces after Covid-19? I am often asked this question during this long three months when we are stuck in the house with our spouses and children of all ages, e-learning/home-schooling, working from home, many not going out even for grocery shopping or errands or perhaps a walk during the day. As an attorney-mediator who mediates pre-decree and post-decree divorces full-time, now by zoom, people think I somehow have a crystal ball to predict who might stay together and which couples who had a seemingly happy marriage might divorce after spending time 24/7 with their spouse. This is a time when people should be worried about staying healthy and getting to the other side of the virus, not whether their spouse said something offensive, or did not pick up his or her socks or empty the dishwasher or read the right bedtime story to their child. This is a time when people should overlook a harsh word and look for the best in their spouse but many are unfortunately not able to do that.
Couples are worried about whether they will be able to keep their jobs or whether they might be downsized or furloughed, whether they will be able to continue to pay the mortgage going forward, whether their child will advance to the next grade or have to repeat a grade because they as parents are not doing an adequate job at homeschooling. All of these worries, on top of being together in the house with their spouse nonstop, might make things quite stressful at a time when they might have thought they had a good or relatively problem-free marriage. Many people, on the other hand, are re-thinking things and appreciating each other much more during this time. Things maybe are not so bad. Perhaps a spouse is now doing the laundry or cooking more dinners now that he/she is working from home or helping with bedtime or baths for the children. Without a long commute before and after a long workday, when there is more time together in the house, maybe co-parenting goes more smoothly.
Covid-19 causes much more stress than people even realize. There is so much uncertainty about the disease itself, how long it might last, when things might open up in our state or other states and when there might be a vaccine. People are having trouble sleeping, focusing on work, getting headaches, stomach aches and other health issues. Children are having meltdowns and not able to focus on schoolwork. Children are not able to sleep, having stomach aches and health issues. People are worried about whether they will get sick and, if they do, how sick they will be. Might they need to be hospitalized? They are worried about consistency among adults in handling the virus, in terms of wearing masks, going to the grocery store or ordering groceries and social distancing.
I think, because couples have time to evaluate what is really important to them during Covid-19, there may actually be more divorces once this is over. While some may decide that they do want to stay together and seek counseling or work hard to be successful in their marriage, others may decide that life is too short, people they love got very sick from the virus or may even have died. They want to spend the time they have with someone they really love or focus on their children instead of fighting with a spouse who continues to make their life difficult when it does not have to be so hard. Many people are saying that they are enjoying quality time with their children, older children especially since the kids cannot be out of the house with their friends having dinner conversations, playing games and even having 20-somethings move back into the house while working from home or doing college online. Perhaps there are some silver-linings to Covid-19 after all whether people stay married and work through marriage issues or ultimately divorce someone who is not making them happy for the long term.