Even if this seems like a long time ago, before COVID-19, divorce rates were declining and it might have to do with the Millennial Generation. According to the Atlantic, this is a Generation that is getting married later in life, where a good percentage has a college degree and where financial stability might come along a lot later than with other generations, and finally, it’s a generation that has faced the fact that Mental Health should be a priority.
According to TIME:
New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried, and so on. Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers, and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.
A study, from the University of Maryland, found that there was a quantified drop-off between 2008 and 2016, where the divorce rate declined by 18% overall. But this might have to do with the fact that gen X does not only put off marriage for a couple of years (rising the median age of marriage to 30 for men and 28 for women, when at the beginning of the 2000s, the median age was 27 for men and 25 for women).
Numbers might be deceiving in this case. Even if divorce rates seemed to decline, it could just mean that fewer couples were getting married. This may be the case as in recent years more adult individuals are single than in previous generations and due to societal shifts, many committed long-term couples chose not to get married.
Why Individuals Are Getting Married Later In Life
There are numerous factors that contribute to the rising median age of marriage for both men and women. One of which is a societal shift, in which younger generations such as millennials are more interested in enjoying their twenties and thirties and pursuing their professional and personal goals before they settle down. For example, it’s not unusual for millennials to focus on establishing their professional careers and traveling the world before they choose to marry and settle down.
While in previous generations most men and women chose to settle down in their early twenties and getting married in your late twenties was considered getting married at an older age. However, today it’s not uncommon to get married in your late twenties, thirties, and even your forties.
What Will Happen To Divorce After The Pandemic
Experts predict that there will be a spike in divorces after and during this pandemic season. Couples who live together have spent much more time together and new challenges to face that they might not have expected: unemployment, being unable to go out, homeschooling the children, and not being able to spend time alone, and other challenges.
If a marriage is already weak and unstable and has cracks in its foundation, it is unlikely to withstand the pandemic. As the pandemic presented once-in-a-lifetime challenges that no one saw coming and most individuals struggled to deal with.
Key Reasons Why Couples May Divorce After The Pandemic
During the pandemic, many businesses had no choice but to lay off a large number of their employees, while other businesses ended up shutting down as a direct result of the worldwide pandemic. As a result, many Americans found themselves unemployed and struggled to find new job positions and to provide for their families. Which caused a lot of strain on many married couples and families. The pandemic had a particularly devastating effect on couples who were no longer able to pay their mortgage payments, due to a loss of income.
Even couples who were lucky enough to both retain their job positions still had to go through the stress of potentially losing their jobs due to the pandemic, which caused tensions to rise in many relationships.
Although in the United States, citizens were entitled to receive government-funded stimulus checks, many couples, and families faced extreme financial hardship during the pandemic. Not only due to unexpected unemployment but also due to unexpected costs.
For example, there was a rise in grocery prices in many parts of the country, due to the lack of supply of grocery items and many couples had to pay for costs that they wouldn’t normally have to pay for such as having to purchase extra food for their children’s lunches. Some couples even found that their power bills increased by a substantial amount, as a result of having their whole family home 24/7. In some cases, with both parents working from home and multiple kids completing online classes through streaming services such as Zoom.
Many couples struggled to home school their children at home, during the lengthy pandemic. Especially parents who had to continue working from home and had to balance taking care of their kids, homeschooling their kids, and engaging in Zoom sessions with their colleagues. It’s likely that many married couples may have gotten into heated disagreements over their responsibilities when it came to homeschooling their children. Particularly if they share multiple elementary-aged children who can be challenging to keep focused at the best of times.
As an example, two parents who both hold professional jobs may have gotten into arguments when they each insisted that their job was more important than their spouse’s job and that their spouse should take more responsibility for homeschooling their children.
Not Being Able To Spend Time Alone
Many married couples thrived before the pandemic as each individual was able to spend time away from their partner, such as time as work, at the gym, and with their friends, and enjoyed reuniting to spend quality time together. However, in the pandemic couples were often confined to their homes and were unable to spend time away from their partners which ultimately led to an increase of martial arguments and general disharmony.
Sharing A Small Living Space
It’s also likely that couples that had to spend their lockdowns in smaller homes such as apartments, would’ve gone through more disagreements than couples who were lucky to spend their lockdowns in spacious homes. Particularly as married couples who share spacious homes would have more space to spread out and to spend time to themselves. For example, some couples would have had multiple living areas, gardens, and home offices to retreat to when they needed space.
Being Stuck At Home For A Lengthy Period Of Time
Even couples who initially relished spending a lot of extra time together often experienced challenges during the pandemic as a result of being confined to their homes for an abnormally long period of time. As an example, social butterflies who suddenly found themselves stuck in their homes may have suffered bouts of depression and may have withdrawn or started arguments with their spouses. As a result of the challenging feelings which they experienced due to the isolation of being made to stay at home.
Pre-Existing Marital Issues
One group of individuals who are far more likely to file for divorce at the conclusion of the pandemic are couples that were already experiencing marital issues prior to the restrictions and challenges of the pandemic. As the unique struggles that the pandemic created would have only heightened these pre-existing marital issues.
For example, if a couple frequently got into arguments about how to raise their children, their political stakes, money issues, or suspected infidelity, the challenges of the pandemic would’ve heightened the tension in these shaky relationships. So, when the pandemic is under control and these couples are no longer forced to live together anymore, many of these couples may quickly make the choice to file for divorce.
Many lawyers find that divorce rates increase right after regular holidays:
A study from the University of Washington demonstrated that divorces usually increase after the summer months or after holidays when couples are together for longer periods of time. That’s why January is called divorce month. Similarly, couples who do not live together may be forced to take long periods of time apart or re-evaluate wedding plans, which can create a new set of stressors and lead to breakups.
At this moment, couples have spent many months social distancing, even if if it is not very strict, it might be weighing heavy on any relationship.
As the Network Post recently published:
The number of people looking for a divorce was 34 percent higher from March through June compared to 2019.
Of course, there are other factors that are not coronavirus-related that might have already set out a couple on higher odds for divorce: such as age difference, getting married too young, lack of commitment, etc.
How To Ensure That Your Marriage Survives The Pandemic
Spouses who are committed to making their marriages work, need to communicate well when they are forced to spend a lot more time together than they are used to. For example, both spouses need to be open about letting their spouses know if they need a bit of quality time to themselves. If you find yourself stuck at home with your partner again in the near future, you may want to take a bubble bath or an aromatherapy bath or to read a book in your garden, when you find yourself craving some alone time.
Remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to require alone time and that when you return to your partner to spend some time together, you’ll be far less likely to get into unnecessary arguments. As you’ll both be calmer and happier to spend some time together after enjoying quality time to yourselves.
The Pandemic & Your Marriage
In the end, what we see after the pandemic might just be an acceleration of what is to come. How have you been handling the pandemic and your relationship with your partner? Did you face any of the marital challenges during the pandemic which were outlined above and did they negatively or positively affect your marriage?
While many marriages broke down during the pandemic, other couples used the same scenario in order to understand each other’s needs better and to work on their communication skills.
If you learned more about yourself and your marriage during the lockdowns that were associated with the global pandemic and you discovered that you are no longer compatible with your spouse, you may want to consider divorce as an option. As one silver lining of the pandemic is that you would’ve been able to truly see who your spouse is, how they think and how they behave when life gets challenging.