Researching, I came across an article from Newsweek that focuses on the effects of a pandemic such as the coronavirus on couples. Personally, I have always seen trends with divorces for one reason or another and coronavirus is no different. Just like the coronavirus will eventually lead to more bankruptcy filings, it will as well for divorces.
Already, there was an increase in divorce filings in the districts of Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Per The Global Times, the surge in divorce appointments was the result of the pandemic causing couples to be “bound with each other at home for over a month” and it created conflict and the desire for impulsive divorces.
“Quarantine is stressful—a review of the evidence published in The Lancet indicates that quarantine can have negative psychological effects including anger, confusion and in some cases, post-traumatic stress symptoms,” David Cates, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and director of behavioral health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told Newsweek.
“Factors that increase the stress of quarantine include a longer quarantine duration, fear of infection, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information and financial loss,” Cates said.
“Being together in a small space for a much longer period than usual under stressful conditions means more opportunities to amplify both positive and negative dynamics,” Cates told Newsweek. “My guess is that relationships with a strong foundation will survive and may even flourish, whereas those characterized by poor negotiation skills, destructive communication and lack of appreciation are more likely to buckle under the stress.”
Cates said that research by John Gottman shows that the ratio of positive to negative interactions during a conflict is critical—couples with at least five positive comments or gestures for every negative interaction tend to be happy.
“So, to survive and thrive during quarantine, couples should look for opportunities to show interest, find areas of agreement, express affection and appreciation and demonstrate empathy. And they need to do this during times of conflict. They should also recognize that worry, fear, stress and guilt are expected and normal reactions during quarantine and not criticize one another for expressing these feelings.”
In addition to relationship-focused strategies, Cates recommends couples reduce their own individual stresses to lessen the toll on the relationship. Recommended strategies for managing stress during quarantine include:
- Get the facts and understand the actual risk—media coverage with dramatic lead-ins and bold headlines might make your personal risk seem worse than it is.
- Get facts from a reliable source such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a local health department or a medical provider.
- Limit media consumption such as 30 minutes in the morning and evening rather than reading headlines or keeping cable news on all day.
- Connect with others who can provide social support—reach out via telephone, email, social media, text message.
- Create and follow a daily routine. Ideally, this would include time for work, exercise, hobbies, learning and eating.
- Stay busy; this might be a good time to catch up on books or movies, fix things around the house you’ve been meaning to get to, learn a language and try out new recipes. These might be things a couple can do together, but can also be separate activities.
- Eat well.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Get physical exercise.
- Learn formal skills for managing stress, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation or mindfulness meditation.
I posted the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for dealing with the coronavirus. That post can be seen here.
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