Online media sources have reported a dramatic increase in divorce filings in China since the reopening of their Divorce Courts following the COVID-19 closures. About two-thirds of the couples filing for divorce during this period cited the stresses of dealing with the virus or the quarantine measures as the reason for the breakdown in the marriage.
I have made it my work’s purpose to help divorcing couples manage this process in a healthy way. If there is a chance to fix the marriage and avoid divorce, I direct couples to appropriate resources such as Marriage and Family Therapists to provide support to the family. The question on my mind is… how do we avoid a spike in divorce filings here in America once the Courts are back open? I reached out to Kara Kohnen who is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego to get some suggestions. Her recommendations included:
- Add Structure for learning, creativity and exercise. With our school and work routines disrupted by shelter in place requirements our normal way of life has been dramatically altered. Setting up a routine that includes healthy time for learning, creativity and exercise can positively impact our mental health and give us a sense of accomplishment that will improve our relationships. Filling our spare time with television and social media without other activity will have the opposite effect.
- Set up a Vision Board or list of activities you will do once shelter in place ends. Making plans for healthy activities once quarantine has ended can give couples and families hope and something to strive for. Having something to work toward or to look forward to can give us a sense of purpose and help to maintain positivity in our lives and relationships.
- Create a Family Mission Statement and Family Rules. Taking some of the extra time together to talk about the things that are important for each spouse and the family can help to strengthen a common sense of purpose. When couples feel like they are not on the same page it can make it all the harder to communicate and all the harder to spend long hours in close proximity. Use the opportunity to revisit family goals and responsibility sharing.
- Connect more with extended Family and others who might feel isolated. We are all feeling a sense of disconnect and the slowdown in our schedules provides a great opportunity to find time to check in on family members and others we may know who are cut off from the world. Given the high-risk concerns for the elderly, many of their routines that give them contact with others on a daily basis have been suspended. Kara indicates that scheduling regular check ins via telephone, Facetime or Zoom can be just what they need to get them through these challenging times. Feeling connected to family can help to strengthen commitment between spouses and can help in weathering other challenges as they arise.
- Take time to Relax and Sleep More. Worrying about family health, job security, finances and relationship challenges can be a huge source of strain and stress. Finding ways to relieve the stress and take advantage of this period of time to get caught up on sleep and to relax is crucial. Doing so can improve our physical health and improve our ability to communicate effectively with one another.
- Get Help if Needed. Kara indicates that Grow Through Life Counseling and other therapy practices have adapted to the times by offering individual and couples counseling via secure video conference or telephone. Turning to a trained mental health professional can help you explore ways to improve communication and find healthy ways to overcome differences before current challenges become insurmountable.
At A Healthy Divorce my commitment is to helping couples navigate the divorce process in a healthy way for the good of the entire family. If I can provide resources to help couples who might not otherwise need to divorce then that is an even healthier outcome! My hope is that couples find opportunity to strengthen relationships during these times rather than find reasons to separate. I am here to help during these confusing times, call me to explore your options. (619) 425-8613