“We broke up because of Corona”
“I found out during lockdown that my husband has a girlfriend.” Reni* whispers down the phone.
“I confronted him about her,” she says, “and all he said was: ‘How did you get into my phone?’
It was a huge argument, and I think he wants a divorce.
Around the world – from America to West Africa – previously happy couples are splitting up and many are divorcing. The stress of the pandemic has been blamed by some, while others say time together during lockdown has highlighted old or underlying problems.
Cooped up together in homes all over the world, many of us have felt the strain on our relationships. Juggling childcare, chores and work, worrying about health, finances and the state of the world, the global Covid-19 crisis has left many of us also navigating a domestic crisis of our own behind closed doors.
For some, like Reni, the close confinement of lockdown has also meant discovering secrets – and having to deal with the fallout.
The number of couples seeking relationship counselling has surged during lockdown. Dr. Marni Feuerman, a therapist in Florida mentions, “The biggest thing I hear is about couples arguing about work around the house,” she says. “People trying to work and also take care of children – everything has been thrown into chaos.”
A collective trauma
A survey by the UK charity Relate in April found that a quarter of people felt lockdown had placed additional pressure on their relationship. A similar proportion had found their partner more irritating – mostly reported by women more than men.
Lockdown relationship tips
Kate Moyle, psychotherapist at the UK Council for Psychotherapy, says:
In lockdown, our partner’s habits that normally irritate us a bit can become much more obvious. The Gottman Institute recommends trying to move away from criticizing or blaming your partner by using “I” statements in your communication, such as “I’m feeling”, “my feelings are”, rather than “you do this, you make me feel”.
Many couples are reporting spending all their time together – but very little of that is quality time. It is important to consciously make time to be together as a couple, but also make sure you spend some time apart as individuals, even in the same house.
This is a really difficult time to be going through a break-up. If you are, it’s important to reach out to family and friends for support, and also to practice self-care by doing the things that make you happy and feel good about yourself.