The pandemic has put a massive strain on the world as a whole. The COVID-19 virus is pushing our healthcare system to its breaking point, our education system is scrambling to adapt to the challenges of virtual learning models, and the tension of it all is affecting our marriages and love relationships. According to an August Ipsos poll, one in five married or partnered people in the U.S. are fighting with their significant other more often than before the pandemic. Even worse, nearly one in ten married or partnered people say it’s likely they will separate from their significant other at least in part due to issues related to the pandemic!
In New York, tiny spaces and limited activities can make marriage and love relationship tension even more acute. So if you feel like the pandemic is causing more issues in your relationships, romantic or otherwise, you’re not the only one! Unfortunately, many marriages or love relationships – even previously healthy ones – are suffering because of isolation and the turmoil the pandemic has brought. To address these issues, we need to talk about them. And if you need some encouragement to talk about them, we need to normalize these problems. Let’s discuss some things that you – and other couples – may be experiencing because of the pandemic.
Relationship Problems are More Intense
During the past “normal times,” it may have been easier to gloss over our marriage or love relationship problems or act as if they were nonexistent. Now, since we are together more than we ever may have imagined with our partner or spouse, without our habitual escapes, our problems are right in our faces; they affect our marriages and love relationships with much more intensity. Couples may be struggling with infidelity or deteriorating sex life, or “day-to-day” issues such as finances or taking care of the kids. Regardless of the nature of our problems, many people have no choice but to face their marriage and love relationship issues head-on. Working through our challenges is even more challenging in close quarters.
You’re Eager to Move Forward in Your Relationship
If you or your spouse/partner took the opportunity to fast-track your marriage or love relationship when the pandemic hit by moving in together or making more significant commitments to each other, you aren’t the only ones! Social distancing led many couples to face big decisions much faster than they would have otherwise: to move in together or to wait it out apart? And who knows exactly how long time apart will last!
Of course, rushing forward with these kinds of decisions, rather than letting them happen organically, could lead to tension down the road. And that’s okay! Many people did the same thing and are now working through the longer-term effects – and possibly sometimes questioning the decisions they made. Rest assured, this is not a typical time, so the “normal” progression of marriage and love relationships is out the window. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, as long as you work through difficult situations together and reach out for help when you need guidance to navigate it all. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your spouse/partner. This is everyone’s first time through a global pandemic!
You’re Hesitant to Move Forward in Your Marriage or Love Relationship
On the other hand, maybe moving forward in your marriage or love relationship sounds like the last thing you can tackle right now! With so much uncertainty and question marks about the future, it’s hard to make plans or think ahead to “What’s next?” Maybe you don’t want to plan a wedding or engagement until the future becomes clear, or perhaps you opted to wait to move-in together. Time feels like it has been suspended for many months, but putting off decisions may now be taking a toll on many couples. Maybe you want to wait a bit longer to plan the future, but your spouse/partner wants to move forward — or vice versa. Regardless, that disconnect of future planning may be affecting your marriage or love relationship.
You’re Letting “Couple Stuff” Slide
Remember that long couple’s bucket list of things you wanted to do together someday when you “had more time?” Suddenly, we seemed to have all the time in the world! How is that bucket list coming along? Are you cooking together more? Improving your sex life? Making intentional time for each other?
If you can answer “yes” to those questions, good for you! But don’t take it as a bad sign if you and your spouse/partner are struggling with this. So many couples are struggling with intimacy and “couple stuff,” as well. It’s hard to miss each other and to create the need for novelty when you coexist 24/7 in the same space, and it’s challenging to designate “together time” when you’re always together!
It’s okay if you and your spouse/partner are struggling with this. Not only are we living completely different lifestyles, but our brains are in survival mode because of pandemic stressors. We’re not on our A-game, so cut yourself and your spouse/partner some slack.
You Feel Like a Break-Up is Inevitable
Combine the stress of the pandemic with brand-new lifestyles and constant togetherness, and you may feel like your marriage or love relationship is on its last leg. Maybe you both thought more time together would help your marriage or love relationship, or perhaps you knew that extra time would cause more issues. Either way, a break-up in the pandemic is… less than convenient. So some couples are choosing – sometimes subconsciously – to postpone the break-up until after the pandemic is over. Sounds like a lot of fun, right?
If you find yourself in this situation, let us reiterate: don’t beat yourself up for any of it. These are unprecedented times for our generation, and these challenges can bring hidden issues to light. If you need to talk about this trying situations, at the minimum, be sure to reach out to a close friend you can trust. If the challenges in your marriage or love relationship have escalated, talk to us at the Loving at Your Best plan – our highly trained marriage therapists can help you navigate these tricky circumstances.
Your Marriage or Love Relationship is Better than Ever!
On the flip side, maybe the pandemic has strengthened your marriage or love relationship more than you ever thought possible! Some couples have found that an unexpected side effect of isolation is a stronger, deeper connection with each other. They’ve had a unique opportunity to learn more about one another, how they handle crises as a couple, unveil more of their personality than before – and grow the love in their marriage or relationship because of it!
If you find yourself even more in love than before, talk to your spouse/partner about it. Discuss what you’ve enjoyed and what have been learning moments; own the things that work well together, and talk about the things that don’t. Above all, celebrate the bond you with your spouse/partner have, and work to keep nurturing it – even long after the pandemic has passed.
The marriage therapists and couples counselors at the Loving at Your Best plan are here to support your journey with your spouse/partner, no matter what effect the pandemic has had on you two – helping others live satisfying marriages and love relationships is our passion!