Judging by recent media coverage, Dan would seem to be the poster child for a wave of pandemic-related divorces that have swept America since March. “Why the coronavirus pandemic is leading so many couples to divorce,” read one New York Post headline this spring. The New York Times recently took a similar line: “Considering a Coronavirus Divorce? You’re in Good Company.”
But in real life, the net effects of the pandemic are not nearly as negative as many media reports would suggest.
Consider Katie, a 37-year-old wife and mother living in Virginia. The lockdown was initially stressful for her and her husband as they scrambled to forge a new schedule to cover their two jobs and child care for their toddler. But once they rearranged their schedule, things got better — in part because her husband took on a greater share of child care than he had prior to the pandemic and in part because they began taking walks and talking more in covid time. “It may sound strange, but the stay-at-home order and pandemic truly strengthened our marriage,” Katie observed.
Distress about the state of our unions certainly seems warranted. The tensions arising from being with your partner all day, every day; the disagreements about how to handle sanitation, socializing and schooling; and the stresses occasioned by lost lives, lost jobs and political tempests seem to never end. A major new survey of American families, the American Family Survey (AFS), found that 34 percent of married men and women ages 18 to 55 report the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage.
Yet Katie is not alone. Most married people in America report their unions have gotten stronger, not weaker, in the wake of covid-19. The AFS found that 58 percent of married men and women 18 to 55 said the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more, while 51 percent said their commitment to marriage had deepened. Only 8 percent said that the pandemic had weakened their commitment to one another.
Divorce is Down in COVID Time:
— Brad Wilcox (@WilcoxNMP) October 21, 2020