LegalTemplates is an online service that sells do-it-yourself legal templates for court filings. Recently, they’ve claimed to have uncovered some “data-driven insights” into the impact the global pandemic is having on American marriages.
They believe that the data they uncovered on COVID-19 divorce rates won’t become available from any government, or scientific research team for several years to come.
That got my attention.
The bottom line? They’ve seen a 34% increase in the purchase of their divorce template.
I’ve already expressed my skepticism around this issue when Bloomberg reported a divorce spike in March after couples emerged from weeks of strict lockdowns that were mandated to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Allegedly, the cities of Dazhou, in Sichuan province, and Xian, in central China, had both reported, “record-high numbers of divorce filings in early March, leading to long backlogs at government offices.”
According to a state media report, a harried scene was described in Hunan province, where clerks “didn’t even have time to drink water” because so many couples were queued up in line, ready to file for divorce.
Will this also happen in the US when most municipal courts eventually re-open?
They claim to have revealed “shocking insights about divorce during COVID-19:”
That’s barely a few weeks after most states enacted stay-at-home orders on March 25.
This data suggests that newlyweds facing COVID are less resilient than older couples.
LegalTemplates is confident that the COVID-19 crisis has increased divorce rates across the USA.
And young couples, (couples with young children and newlyweds), are particularly stressed.
The social, financial, emotional, and psychological stressors from COVID-19 are still unfolding and many are asking; how bad can it get?
A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology examined the resilience of over 400 newlywed couples. The chief finding was that no matter the source of the stress, spouses who experienced greater external stress had lower overall marital satisfaction than couples with fewer external problems.
Unfortunately, external stressors will be abundant for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Paula Pietromonaco is a social psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, and the principal investigator for the Growth in Early Marriage Project.
Her research examines how people think, feel, and behave in the context of their intimate relationships.
Paula wrote a recent analysis describing the potential impact of COVID-19 on relationships for the American Psychologist, a publication of the American Psychological Association.
Paula’s research also focuses on how one spouse’s behavior can influence the other’s ability to regulate their emotions. She examines how these relationship processes impact physical health and mental health as the couple moves through time together. Couples therapists call this co-regulation.
“When couples have external stress, it affects how they interact with each other. Interactions become less constructive. People are likelier to blame their partner.” Dr. Paula Pietromonaco.
Like Gottman, she emphasized the importance of raising issues in a way that “shows you want to communicate it, thinking about how we can negotiate without blaming a family member or partner.”
Your marriage can survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all have an innate need for belonging, and we’re much more likely to pull through when we feel emotionally connected to the people we love (Pietromonaco & Collins, 2017).
Although your marriage is likely to be your primary source of support, don’t forget to also stay connected with friends and family (e.g., through Zoom, phone calls, snail mail, text, or email).
These family and friendship bonds can help you thrive during these uncertain times (Keneski et al., 2018).
We know that having supportive close relationships, including marital relationships, can help you manage stress and pull through. These relationships reduce health risks as much or more than well-known healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, regular exercise, and quitting smoking, (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010; Pietromonaco & Beck, 2019; Pietromonaco & Collins, 2017.)
In other words, closer intimate bonds will protect you and your family during this difficult time. People from your past may reach out to you from out of the blue. Keep good boundaries, and be open and transparent to your partner.
If you have adult children who are just starting out a gift of intensive online couples therapy could be a life-changing experience. Not only for their marriage but to also dramatically help your grandchildren succeed in life.
Couples who don’t wish to be included in the COVID-19 divorce rate are working hard with us to maintain and deepen their emotional bonds. These couples are making an investment in their longer-term emotional and physical health with science-based couples therapy right from home, online.
Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith TB, & Layton JB. (2010). Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Medicine, 7, e1000316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316
Elizabeth Keneski, Lisa A. Neff, Timothy J. Loving (2017) The Importance of a Few Good Friends: Perceived Network Support Moderates the Association Between Daily Marital Conflict and Diurnal Cortisol. Social Psychological and Personality Science: pp. 962-971.
Nguyen, T. P., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2020). When poor communication does and does not matter: The moderating role of stress. Journal of Family Psychology, 34(6), 676–686. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000643
Pietromonaco, P. R., & Beck, L. A. (2019). Adult attachment and physical health. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 115–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.04.004
Pietromonaco, P. R., & Collins, N. L. (2017). Interpersonal Mechanisms Linking Close Relationships to Health. American Psychologist, 72(6), 531–542. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000129
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the Blog Editor. He currently works online seeing couples from Massachusetts at Couples Therapy Inc. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.