How to ensure your marriage doesn’t end in divorce due to the lockdown

(PHOTO:GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
(PHOTO:GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)

During the lockdown period, I find myself easily irritable by things my husband used to do that were never an issue for me before.

I’m scared and I’m anxious for my marriage because I’ve also read that in China couples are divorcing left, right and centre because the coronavirus.

How can I divorce-proof my marriage, and ensure that we are not casualties of this lockdown?

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Covid-19 Lockdown doesn’t have to End in Divorce

The highly reported spike in the divorce rate in China due to their national coronavirus lockdown, has added to the anxiety of many couples in South Africa about the future of their marriages.

As a commonly practiced precautionary measure the world over, we are among other things, required to stay at home as the government is doing what they can to deal with the virus. As this happens, couples are trying to find better conflict resolution mechanisms and ways of not stepping on each other’s toes.

When left with nowhere to go, as the lockdown dictates, couples lose space to breathe from the unresolved issues that may have long been plaguing their relationships. This period will also bring up new issues you may have never known to exist as they were hidden by your rhythm of being together after work and apart by day.

Being in each other’s face day and night, couples are most likely left without any of the backdoors through which they usually escape from unpleasant situations. The backdoors would typically be high commitment to work, studies, church activities, visiting friends and family etc.

Unable to avoid the problems anymore, couples typically run headlong into them, and the results are pretty much what you’d expect.

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The threat of coronavirus is particularly unnerving because it represents so much more than just one danger. Our physical health, financial security, employment situations, children’s education and childcare coverage are all changing and or are newly at risk.

Looking at the situation, it’s no rocket science that a post-Covid-19 world will see a spike in two aspects on the home-front: pregnancy and divorce.

Your post-Covid-19 world doesn’t have to end in divorce. Consider the following recommendations.

Share the house chores

For many couples, lockdown is a period that reveals the “true side” of their spouses. Whilst some appreciate the opportunity to spend time with their spouses and children, many, especially women, are weighed down from the pressures of childcare without support and from imbalances in household responsibilities. Negotiating your way around this issue alone can save your marriage.

Establish Covid-19 deal-breakers

For basic relationship health, each must list four critical points that are very important to your personal comfort during this period.

These could be behaviours the other may see as frivolous but that low-level irritate you under normal circumstances, but really grate on your nerves when together 24/7. Discuss these openly. Then commit to respecting and adhering to them in order to maintain peace during the highly emotionally charged period.

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Understand that everyone needs time to realign

Covid-19 has changed everyone from a ‘thriving’ experience to a ‘surviving’ experience overnight. This isn’t easy, and requires some readjustment time. This difference in mindset can create a unique tension, and demands a focus on psychological survival.

The skill set that survival demands is different than what is required to thrive and can include: greater flexibility, presence of mind, a sense of urgency, and functionality over process.

In addition to the above points, we recommend setting ground-rules in your marriage for fair fights; establish that yours shall be a lifestyle of forgiveness; and that you’ll continue to pursue your dreams while quarantined, albeit by applying different methods.

Increased time together during this lockdown period isn’t automatically good or bad for a marriage. What it generally does is accelerate the trajectory your marriage is already on. In practice, a marriage that would have ended in two years might end in three months instead, should there be no change.

At the same time, the increased levels of stress, anxiety and fear during this season typically lead to lower libido. The fact that you're with each other 24/7 doesn't automatically translate to a sizzling period of sex.

Instead of allowing your marriage to continue on a downward trajectory, why not use this time as your own unique marriage boot-camp, to listen and learn stuff about your spouse that you never gave yourself time for. You have a golden opportunity to change the trajectory of your marriage from negative to positive; and from good to great. Don't let your marriage die in isolation.