Recently, CNBC predicted a dismal future for marriages after the pandemic is over. The article title speaks for itself, “As couples self-isolate due to coronavirus, lawyers expect a rise in divorces.”
The author interviewed several lawyers who liken the quarantine to extra time together during holidays, which is always followed by a spike in divorce. One U.K. lawyer said the internet search “I want a divorce” is 230% higher after Christmas. Which means lawyers everywhere are waiting on the marriages who will be a coronavirus divorce statistic.
Sadly, prolonged time together, especially during a crisis, can make you loathe the one you love. And there are several reasons. Most of us can identify with at least one of these (or all—no judgment here) in our current situation:
- As stress goes up, patience and self-control go down. During a crisis, we all have less tolerance. Little irritants become big issues. Like the straw that broke the camel’s back, added pressure makes coping harder.
- A spouse makes an easy target. Many of us don’t know how to handle fear and pressure during a crisis. Human nature wants a cause to blame, and a spouse is easy pickin’s.
- Prolonged time together puts pressure on existing weaknesses. Many spouses maintain the relationship by ignoring problems. But prolonged time together forces the forbidden topics to surface.
- We’re fighting an invisible enemy. As if these issues weren’t enough, we also have an enemy—Satan—who wants marriages to fail. The Bible says he prowls around like a lion, seeking people to torment and tear apart (1 Peter 5:8). And that includes your marriage.
With all these issues swirling and feelings running wild, it’s easy to see how any marriage could be a coronavirus divorce statistic on the horizon. But before we turn on our spouses, let’s check our hearts.
Don’t let your marriage become a coronavirus divorce statistic
What about practical solutions to protect your marriage when experts are talking about a rise in divorces?
When money is tight, kids are restless, and mom and dad are stepping on each other’s toes, what can you do? Here are four actions you can start today.
1. Avoid making decisions you might regret.
During crises, it should be a rule in any relationship to not make any major decisions. Feelings are too sensitive. You could easily make a long-term decision you wish you could undo. It’s better to ride out the storm and wait until your head’s on straight.
2. Talk about the hard issues in your marriage, but don’t stop there.
Come up with a plan. Answer the question, “Now what?” For example, if spending is the cause of your fighting, plan to solve the problem. Can you give your spending spouse an allowance?
3. Consider the relationship between strengths and weaknesses.
Most often, a person’s greatest weakness is also his greatest strength. Make a list of your spouse’s traits that drive you crazy. Now consider how those traits are also strengths you love.
For example, it drives me crazy that my husband spends too much time surfing his phone. But I’ve discovered I can have deeper conversations with him over text. Sometimes it’s hard for him to find the right words, especially when I’m staring at him, making him feel judged. But over text he can “hide” and share a little more of his heart.
4. Evaluate your expectations.
Your spouse is human—frail, imperfect, but still made in God’s image. He or she has God-given gifts and qualities, and there’s a reason God put you together. Through Christ, “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Maybe it’s not your spouse, but your expectations causing problems.
Have you considered your perspective of your mate may be out of line with who God made them to be? Maybe instead of your spouse, it’s you that needs to change. Are you controlling? Perfectionist? Do you care too much about what others think? Have you made your idea of the “perfect marriage” an idol? How is God using your mate’s imperfections to challenge your own sin?
Loving the person you “hate”
Theologian R. C. Sproul once told a story about a man who came to his pastor for marriage counseling. The man said, “Pastor, I can’t live with my wife anymore.”
“Just love her as a sister in Christ,” the pastor replied.
But the man argued, “She’s a terrible person. I’m not even sure she’s a Christian.”
“So, she’s more like a stranger, or a neighbor?” the pastor asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” the man said. “We’re not close anymore.”
But the pastor persisted, “Well, Jesus told us to love our neighbors.”
Frustrated, the man said, “I don’t think you understand. I hate her, and she hates me!”
“So, she’s your enemy?” the pastor asked.
“Yes! The worst of enemies!” the man exclaimed.
“Then you have no other choice,” the pastor replied. “Jesus told us to love our enemies.”
People are people, even Christians. We’re all going to sin and hurt the ones we love.
But love doesn’t mean a lack of conflict. Healthy conflict is a sign communication is happening—facing issues, instead of burying them.
Holding anger inside, on the other hand, is dangerous. Like a pressure cooker, if we don’t let out the steam, the pot will explode.
You’re not alone
Looking around, you may feel alone in your struggle. But those smiling faces on social media don’t always tell the truth—marriage is hard work. Especially when you’re stuck in your house due to a pandemic.
The Holy Spirit is also with you. Even when the fight seems too hard on our own, Jesus promises He’s with us during every trial in life. He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Trust God. Love unconditionally. Use wisdom. And your marriage will come out stronger on the other side instead of becoming another coronavirus divorce statistic.
Copyright © 2020 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald. All rights reserved.
Sabrina Beasley McDonald has been writing about God’s plan for marriage and family for over 19 years. Sabrina is holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University. She is the author of several devotional books, including Write God In Deeper: Journal Your Way to a Richer Faith.