The novel coronavirus has Americans on lockdown with mandates for social distancing and shelter-in-place. For some, it means staying under the same roof with their partner or spouse for an extended period of time – and that could mean the death for many relationships.
Divorce rates in China have soared since the COVID-19 outbreak hit earlier this year. The Chinese city Xi’an reported seeing massive spikes in divorce appointments since marriage registration offices opened earlier in March, according to the Global Times. By the first week of March, the office said it received 14 divorce appointments, which was the limit set by the office.
“As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts, adding that the office had been closed for a month, therefore the office has seen an acutely increasing divorce appointment,” an official with the surname Wang told the Global Times.
He added: “Usually the office would see a wave of divorcement after Spring Festival and the college entrance examination.”
One official quoted in the report said that time spent at home together was one of the “underlying conflicts” that resulted in the divorce spike.
Another reason for the increase in divorces in China results in the offices being closed for a month, which means delayed requests are being addressed now since offices have re-opened.
Page Six reported divorce filings are rising with a 50% rise in inquiries in recent days. Financial matters and time spent in quarantine together during the epidemic are some of the factors behind the decision to split.
“We’ve had an increased amount of calls in the past week from people seeking representation for divorce proceedings, a 50% increase, and I have been hearing the same from my colleagues at other firms,” Divorce attorney William D. Zabel from Schute Roth & Zabel told Page Six.
A similar trend has been seen by Ayesha Vardag, founder of divorce lawyers Vardags, told CNBC she expected her firm to not have much noise during the coronavirus pandemic, but things have quickly taken a turn.
“Stuck in oftentimes confined quarters … it can become a pressure cooker waiting to blow,” Vardag told the outlet.
Advice for struggling couples
Career and personal coach Marty Nemko, Ph.D. wrote a blog post for Psychology Today on how to navigate relationship problems during the coronavirus epidemic.
Nemko suggested that couples shouldn’t feel obligated to interact more just because they are under the same roof now more than ever.
“Continue and perhaps expand your solo activities, maybe to those you had wished you had more time for pre-coronavirus,” he wrote. “Examples: a DIY home-improvement project, needlework, playing a video game, writing, painting, playing a musical instrument, or starting a sport.”
Nemko added: “If the increased time together is highlighting a bigger problem, maybe this is the time to really address it with statesmanlike exchanges between the two of you, perhaps with a mediating counselor.”