Why More Couples Are Seeking Divorces During the Pandemic
An unfortunate consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increase in the number of married couples who have decided to separate. Some New Jersey lawyers have reported a 10% increase in divorce filings since the stay-at-home orders were put in place. Especially for couples who were already struggling, the pandemic has magnified their problems.
Money issues have always been the top reason why couples have sought divorce in America. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new money issues where there weren’t any before and magnified problems that already existed. Here are the major money issues confronting couples during the lockdown.
- Loss of income: With millions of Americans unemployed, chances are that at least one spouse has suddenly found themselves without a job. Even with government help, many families are struggling to compensate for lower incomes. This causes a lot of stress within a relationship, and many arguments about financial decisions may ensue.
- Mismatched financial priorities: Perhaps one spouse wanted to save the stimulus check to cover future bills while the other felt it was important to pay off debt. Maybe one spouse wants to trim their budget as close as possible while the other wants to continue living and spending in the same way, even if it means using credit cards. The lack of shared goals can lead to many disagreements.
- Financial infidelity: This is a term used for a variety of hidden financial decisions. It could be secret purchases, debt that has not been disclosed to the other partner, or a gambling addiction. The root of this problem lies in couples not being honest with each other. During this time of financial stress, one partner may have found themselves gambling as a way to try to get some money back into their accounts. Perhaps one spouse relieves stress by shopping online with an undisclosed credit card. When these secrets come out, they often lead to increased fighting and one or both partners deciding enough is enough.
The financial stresses of the lockdown, regardless of the specific situation, have definitely led couples to believe that their only way out of the stress is divorce. By speaking to a divorce lawyer, you can determine if you truly want to separate or simply need some financial counseling.
Increased Tensions Leading to Increased Fighting
Besides money issues, there are other tensions facing couples during the pandemic. These may include:
- Lack of communication: Couples are suddenly spending more time together due to unemployment or working from home. While it may seem like communication would improve, this is not the case for some couples. The increased tension about finances and other stressors may create an increase in both minor and major fights. Couples may not be opening up to each other about the individual levels of stress they are feeling. Instead, they might bury their feelings of stress and snap at each other.
- Division of labor: Before the lockdown, many couples had figured out a division of labor for household and children duties that worked with their individual schedules. With everything upended due to COVID-19, these duties have also been upended. Perhaps one spouse is home more than the other but is not completing the same household tasks that the other spouse had been doing. This can cause a lot of friction between couples. The carefully thought out division of labor now has to be reconfigured. For some couples, it seems like an insurmountable task. Bitterness and fighting often ensue as each side feels they are doing more than their fair share.
- Childcare: When kids are involved, more options for fighting and bitterness arise. Around the nation, schools shut down and sent children into their homes to complete distance learning. Most parents were not prepared for this change, especially those who were already working. Trying to balance working from home and helping children with homework is a huge task. Even if one parent has been laid off and is home full-time, they could be at a loss of how to help their children. Perhaps one spouse felt like the children didn’t necessarily have to complete every task. This could be at odds with the other spouse’s stronger focus on education. It’s just another layer of stress for parents who were already stressed.
- Disagreements on the pandemic itself: There have been many different opinions issued on all the different facets of the pandemic. Controversy has arisen over whether the shutdowns were necessary and if masks need to be worn in public. Even couples that haven’t experienced other issues during the pandemic may have found that they are on opposite sides of these issues. With tensions rising around the country, these disagreements could lead to arguments that seem to have no end. When someone forms a strong opinion on one or more of these issues, they are rarely persuaded to see the other side. Couples who can’t agree on these issues, or can’t agree to just disagree and move on, may be moved to file for divorce.
Substance Use and Domestic Violence
While many businesses were shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, liquor stores remained open. Even adults who previously did not drink very much started to drink more frequently during the shutdown. This has led to two more major points of stress.
- Alcohol abuse: Before the shutdown, if one partner drank more alcohol than the other, it wasn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. However, many families started noticing a huge increase in one spouse’s drinking. This often resulted in a change of behavior. With the added stresses and possible depression, drinking vastly exacerbated the problems. If alcohol made one partner angry and combative, the other partner probably felt bitter and hopeless. If both partners were drinking excessively, the arguments probably got more heated than usual.
- Domestic violence: Many spouses were already living with the very real threat of domestic violence before the shutdown. With job losses and financial insecurity, these situations increased during the lockdown. Increased alcohol consumption in a partner who was already lashing out physically could make the violence even worse. In addition, an abused partner who had no place to go would be in a precarious situation with the stay-at-home orders. Their normal ways of trying to deal with their partner’s anger were all gone. Even for couples who had never experienced domestic violence, the stressors that came with the COVID-19 lockdown could have turned things physical for the first time.
There are many reasons why couples seek a divorce. These reasons have been amplified during the lockdown. Financial insecurity, communication issues, substance use, and domestic violence are especially problematic right now. New stresses include the divisiveness of having vastly different opinions on how the government has handled the shutdowns. Even couples with strong marriages have seen their relationships tested with all of the additional stressors during the pandemic.
If the pandemic has shown you problems in your marriage that you didn’t realize were there, you may need to consult with a divorce lawyer. Give the law office of Kelly Berton Rocco in Hackensack a call today at 201-343-0078 to get the help you need. You can also email us at email@example.com.