The negative repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have reverberated through society, inducing the feeling of “societal tectonic plates” shifting beneath us. The resultant loss of equilibrium, security, and stability has unsurprisingly caused married couples to experience an abnormal strain on their relationships.
“All families have underlying issues; in times like these, they're exacerbated or easily triggered, thus launching potentially toxic interactions,” family therapist Helen Park of Manhattan's Ackerman Institute for the Family, a mental health clinic, tells USA Today.
"It's just so much more pronounced now because the climate for everybody is such an acute, pervasive level of anxiety," Park says. "That kicks up the sympathetic nervous system; the fight-or-flight fear responses are very much always on. That's where you get problematic cycles of interactions, which are so difficult to interrupt if you're in a heightened state."
So many foundational elements of our society have been jeopardized as we combat the deadly coronavirus – human connection, economic prosperity, and reliable healthcare to name a few. As this foundation erodes, tensions continue to rise within marriages. Arguments are inevitable when couples are trapped at home for months on end, with few opportunities to get out and release stress. Many couples are finding themselves lashing out at one another with unnecessary harshness over trivial matters. Others are growing frustrated over negotiating with their spouse about how intensively to apply the social distancing guidelines.
In response to the mounting stress, many couples are understandably spending more time than normal reading the news and using social media to attempt to stay connected to their friends and family. However, this may only be exacerbating the problem. For this reason, it may be a good time to consider taking a social media detox as a couple. However, before you do, make two exceptions and read these tips for maintaining a healthy relationship from the American Psychological Association and this helpful CNN article on how to ensure that your marriage survives the coronavirus.
The Harris Law Firm is dedicated to educating and empowering everyday people. Browse our family law resources for more information about coping with marital stress, or contact us to discuss a potential case with an attorney.