Written by: Janet Henson, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
The COVID-19 pandemic is straining many marriages and some to breaking point. In many countries, the divorce rate is rising as couples are impacted by the emotional, physical, and economic fallout since March 2020. The COVID-19 pressure effect results in marriages becoming more fragile due to couples experiencing so much stress.
Reason or the final straw
My experience with my clients is that often COVID-19 is not the reason for the split but the catalyst, the final straw. It’s just that final push for one of the partners to realize that they are unhappy and wish to change their lives. COVID-19 has made many people realize that life is short and they need to grasp it and live it to the fullest. Staying in an unhappy marriage, especially a toxic one, is no longer an option.
COVID-19 is a real test of a relationship, and lockdowns suddenly mean that couples have to spend 24 hours together seven days a week. Disillusionment is brought to the fore after being forced into closer proximity and spending more time with their partners. The annoying behaviors and opinions of their partners suddenly come into focus, and thus a realization that they can no longer accept this in their lives. On a positive note, facing the fact that you need to leave an unhappy marriage in the long run is a good thing.
However, many couples thrived during lockdowns and used it as a new restart to the relationship. They re-evaluated their lives and realized that their lifestyle was too hectic and driven by material desires, which meant they had lost their way. Thus, averting a possible split down the road if they had not taken action.
An excuse to stay in a bad relationship?
In some cases, those struggling in a relationship used COVID-19 as an excuse to stay in a bad relationship. Quite often, when a relationship breaks down, we are in denial and fear the future, and so COVID-19 becomes another reason to bolster our denial vibes. It’s important to face the fact that denial has to be faced at some point.
Extra burden for working women
Working women who already felt that they were burning the candle at both ends suddenly had the extra burden of homeschooling, juggling child care, and trying to work from home. Stress levels have been exacerbated to new levels, quite often hobbies that previously de-stressed were unobtainable due to gyms being closed or simply that time was no longer available with the additional roles mentioned above. It’s important to share this new ‘workload’ with your partner.
Additional Curve Balls
Many of my clients, already in the process of divorce, were thrown additional curved balls. Often the whole process suddenly ground to a halt as divorce processes were delayed. Court delays have also left my clients in no man’s land with frustrating zero progress. Financial agreements that were already in the arbitration process had to be restarted as reduced income and investment shortfalls were impacted.
For those divorcing later in life, it is essential to revisit pension splits as some pensions' capital value is linked directly to the performance of the investments underlying it. Those who had already started planning a new life had to rethink due to reduced financial settlements. Suddenly their rental or buying abilities were affected or delayed. In some cases, they were forced to remain living with their ex placing them in a unique situation of being confined with a partner they were actively trying to separate from. It’s important to seek financial advice before you agree to any financial settlement, especially as the road map has significantly changed. As the pandemic has evolved, court hearings, mediation, and solicitor meeting have now become virtual.
In certain cases, it may be harder for some to handle mediations or court appearances virtually. Divorce is an emotional process. Sometimes, the human connection of having your team in your actual room can be calming.
For those couples who have already split and are co-parenting, COVID-19 amplifies conflicts and can create new ones. Just the very process of children living in two homes and, in some cases, two countries has brought a whole new dimension of challenges. Some parents are missing out on seeing their children, and this is heartbreaking. Couples may also disagree as to what is COVID-19 friendly behavior. One parent may wish to isolate the children whilst the other still lets them mingle with other families. One may feel it is perfectly ok for a child to fly to visit them in another country whilst the other feels flying is not acceptable in a COVID-19 environment. In some circumstances, maintenance payments have also been impacted.
It is really important to put the children first in these times, you may not still be married, but you are both still parents. Co-parenting goes better when parents are flexible with each other, so you need to put away previous grudges and work together with the new circumstances, communicate well and work together to solve new, specific challenges.
Many of us face another lockdown, and the reality of this means that even more divorces will result. If you can work on your marriage, turn it around. If not, accept the fact that you have grown apart and need to move on in life.
Remember that divorce is the second most traumatic experience in life, overlaid with COVID-19 means that this is magnified even more. I strongly encourage you to seek help from a team, a lawyer for legal matters, a financial specialist, and a divorce coach to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma that divorce brings.
How I help you
As a divorce coach, I address the emotional issues. My role is to hold your hand to cross the bridge and navigate the emotionally troubled waters. I am here to help you navigate every single step of your painful situation with strategies to enable you to move forward in your life. My job is to support, educate and guide you as you move into a new and improved life. I can be your co-navigator in your journey, and I aim to create a safe, supportive, non-judgmental, and understanding environment.
My approach is holistic as I am a great believer in the mind and body working together. What is in your body is in your brain. I believe you need to harmonize your body with your mind to operate at full capacity. I used this approach in my divorce journey and recognized the multi-faceted benefits.
Janet Henson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Janet Henson is a globally sought-after Divorce Coach, dedicated to guide men and women through one of life’s most traumatic emotional events - divorce. Janet's quest is to banish the stigma that still surrounds divorce and prove that the end of a marriage can be the empowering, life-changing, and affirming event ever to happen to you. Her coaching experience coupled with her own divorce experience enables her to develop coaching programs designed to help individuals transform their lives by taking control of their minds and equipping them with the strategies and tools they need to successfully deal with this major life event. Enabling them to navigate and cope with their journey with positivity and confidently transitioning into the next phase of their lives. Janet specializes in divorces involving narcissistic abuse, high conflict, divorce in later life, and ex-pat divorces.