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How to protect your marriage from COVID-19

Published: 20 March 2020

As the full impact of the Coronavirus is coming to light, we thought that it was worth reflecting upon what some of these effects might have on families and their marriages.

Reports on divorce rates in China have seen a dramatic spike since the country started imposing quarantines. Some have blamed the sharp increase on the fact that couples are having to spend too much time together. Which, on the face of it, would be supported by what some practitioners will see as a rise in divorce cases after school holidays when families are spending more time with each other. However, this increase in divorces maybe because couples wait until after the holidays before they issue divorce proceedings. Similarly, in China, there will likely be a portion of those divorce cases where the couples were waiting for the quarantine restrictions to be lifted. Although, when we take a step back and consider the implications that the Coronavirus will have on modern society), it is easy to see that issues such as quarantine are not just about spending time confined with your spouse, partner or family.  Evidence published in The Lancet indicates that quarantine can have negative psychological effects including anger, confusion and in some cases, post-traumatic stress symptoms,” says David Cates Ph.D, a licensed psychologist and Director of behavioral health at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre.

Quarantine, however, is not the only stressor. The ramifications of the Government’s measures taken in Jersey are already starting to be felt. Parents are having to take time off work (sometimes unpaid) in order to look after children that have been told to socially distance themselves. Others will also have had to work from home even though they don’t show any of the symptoms.

Those that haven’t been directly affected by the virus will no doubt have felt it indirectly. Whether it is feeling self-conscious about shaking hands with friends or clients or trying to arrange meetings with people inside or outside of work. There is a constant alertness and fear of being infected. All of this adds to the air of stress and anxiety that we all feel at the moment. Where there is an uncertainty and a level of anxiety generally, it is inevitable that this will feed back into your home life. Arguments may appear to be becoming more regular and general stress will inevitably play its Machiavellian part in trying to disrupt relationships.

We are therefore, living in a difficult and taxing time and it is important to bear in mind that at some point, this will settle down and normality (by and large) will return to our lives. Given that we see what happens when relationships do, unfortunately, breakdown, we thought that it would be helpful to give some guidance as to how you might best limit the potential damage to your relationship.

  1. Make sure you get the facts and understand the actual risks – dramatic headlines in the press and on social media may make your personal risk even more stressful than in reality it is;
  2. Get those facts from a reliable news sources – not Twitter or Facebook
  3. Limit media consumption about the virus to around 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening;
  4. Make sure you keep in contact with friends and family and don’t just talk about the virus and the worries that you have;
  5. Create and follow a daily routine if you are isolating or working from home;
  6. Stay busy. This might be a good time to catch up on books and movies and even find a new hobby! Eat well, get sufficient sleep and physical exercise;
  7. Practice mindful meditation, muscle relaxation and deep breathing to help manage stress;
  8. And remember above all else, the world is still a beautiful place and we can get through this together.

At Viberts we are here with you every step of the way.

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