COVID-19 and Marriage Stress

COVID-19 restrictions have increased stress in marriage, but largely couples under stress work together to solve problems, especially if they have kids. But now restrictions are being lifted. What does that mean for marriage?

It means that marriages are in great danger. The time when divorces are most likely to occur is not during a period of stress, when the couple is forced to work together, but after the stress ends. This is likely because emotional distancing has increased, often without the couple knowing it, due to a deprioritization of the marriage. The extensive research of John Gottman shows how emotional distance is what predicts divorce, not conflict.

So it makes sense that lots of divorces occur when young children move past the more difficult years of 0-3, or when children leave the home at 18. Life for the couple was an endless checklist, child-focused, and intimacy got lost. Note well: sex does not equal intimacy! When the stress let up, they realized they didn't even know each other anymore. You could substitute work ambition for kids in this example.

On a smaller scale, COVID-19 restrictions lifting are going to end the stress-checklist mentality, revealing weaknesses in the relationship. That's not a bad thing, actually. When people come to marriage therapy with an agenda, we are off to a great start.

Don't be fatalistic about a failing marriage! Give me a call, and let's rebuild the love. You might even have fun.