Alicia and Trevor’s marriage was humming along before the pandemic. They were both constantly busy. He went to the office every day, played team sports on the weekend—hockey in the winter, softball in the summer. She was more of an introvert, working from home, swimming laps for exercise. They came together at dinner sometimes, and all was well.
Suddenly they were thrown together day and night when Trevor began to work from home. His personality as an extrovert made him miss social interaction at work and the sports he used to enjoy for his physical and mental health. He began to feel trapped at home and struggled to cope with the loss of routines that brought him comfort and a feeling of stability.
Meanwhile, Alicia was glad her husband would be home more often. She was looking forward to his help around the house. The couple used to have cleaning help once a week, but the person who did it was no longer available. She had to care for her mother who had Covid-19. So the housework was piling up, although Alicia sometimes got out the vacuum between online meetings. The couple no longer considered dining out in restaurants to be safe, so there were more groceries to buy, more cooking to do, and more dishes to wash. In fact, Alicia felt like her kitchen duties were seemingly endless.
Trevor, on the other hand, found working from home very stressful, isolating and frustrating. His opportunities as an extrovert had been curtailed and his mental health was suffering. And even though he felt like he was working hard—online meetings took some getting used to—his workload had been cut back due to the pandemic’s effect on his employer. The cut-back came with a pay-cut, and Trevor experienced some wounded pride along with financial stress.
Alicia, who, as an introvert, valued her alone time, was constantly with her spouse. She found herself more and more stretched with work. Added to her to-do list was reassuring Trevor. Her housework was already disproportionately much greater than Trevor’s contribution. And now she had to “babysit” him. His anxiety disorder, which had been dormant before, had become full blown. It was more than she could handle.
The rise in American divorces can be tied to the pandemic. The fact is, there has been a significant spike in divorces since the pandemic. Couples like Alicia and Trevor seemed to coexist just fine until the pandemic brought their relationship into sharper focus. They weren’t necessarily happy before, but they were stable. They were distracted by their activities. They were able to spend significant amount of time apart. They could more easily ignore problems with their relationship.
The pandemic forced Alicia and Trevor to take stock, seek professional help, and decide whether they should stay together or not. It’s not an easy decision when they’re already dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact