The pandemic’s profound effects on married couples and divorce

The effects of the pandemic on Cabarrus County and the rest of the nation have often been significant as stay-at-home orders changed the way Americans work, go to school and socialize. The pandemic has also had a profound effect on many marriages, as couples have spent more time together because many people are now working from home while many others have been laid off.

For some, the increased time together has fostered a greater appreciation of their spouse. But for others – especially those in marriages in which significant time was devoted to individual pursuits – the increased time together might “seem more like a house arrest than a fantasy,” said Steve Harris, a professor of marriage and family therapy at the University of Minnesota.

Decline in divorce

Although there aren’t yet national statistics on divorce during the pandemic, there is data available from a few states that show a decline in divorce. For instance, divorces were down 24 percent from March to December last year. In Florida, divorces dropped 20 percent.

Of course, in many areas of the U.S., courts have been on heavily reduced hours because of the pandemic, which has stretched out the divorce process for many with delayed trial schedules and pandemic-related postponements.

The Associated Press reports that marriage counselors say that many couples have delayed divorces because one or both spouses are struggling with financial insecurity due to pandemic-fueled layoffs or reduced work hours.

Absence of work buffer

“Some come in saying they’re overwhelmed, fighting over finances, their kids’ education,” said Rev. Russ Berg of his faith-based marriage counseling. “Without going to work, they don’t have that buffer of being physically gone. They feel they’re on top of each other.”

Gregory Popcak, an Ohio psychotherapist who specializes in marriage counseling said that the absence of the work buffer has in many marriages magnified disagreements and differences in style or approaches to problems.

“For couples who had a tendency to use their business to avoid problems, the pandemic has made things infinitely worse,” Popcak said. “The lockdown has raised the emotional temperature a few notches . . . things that were provocative before are now catastrophic.”

Attorney Elizabeth Lindsey, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said that her practice is like many around the nation.

“Plenty of people I’ve consulted with were not ready to pull the trigger during the pandemic,” Lindsey said. However, she expects a surge in divorces when the threat of Covid-19 eases and the economy rebounds.

Recent Posts