The Pandemic Made our Relationship Stronger
Wall Street Journal
Sept 26/27, 2021
I thought this was pretty good news to pass along. My sister sent me the article from the Wall Street Journal Sept 26/27, 2021. It documents how despite early fears of a divorce surge, new data shows the opposite. It showed that after a difficult year, couples are more appreciative and committed. My own experience is similar. Some couples (I am not saying all), appreciated the chance to have more time together with their partner and family. On the other hand, if there were cracks in the foundation of a relationship. A lack of outlets like going for a coffee, the gym, or to work exposed those cracks even more. Here are some excerpts from the article The Pandemic Made our Relationships Stronger by Dr. Lewandowski
The Pandemic Changed Relationships
During the pandemic, it felt like everything changed for the worse. But one thing got better: our relationships. Frankly, no one saw it coming. In the pandemic’s early stages, as lockdowns limited our movements and left couples spending unprecedented amounts of time together, many believed that divorce and fighting would skyrocket. The crucible of closeness seemed destined to destroy relationships. Certainly the dramatic shift in everyday life was stressful, especially for couples who reported suffering from social isolation and financial strain. … For those whose relationship already had some cracks, the pandemic deepened the problems. But those who already had strong relationships with responsive partners felt more connected to their partner and reported better relationship quality.
According to the 2020 American Family Survey, an annual survey of 3,000 adults conducted by the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, the share of married people reporting their marriage is in trouble fell from 40% in 2019 to 29% in 2020. Among married men and women age 18 to 55, 58% said that the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more, and 51% said that their commitment to marriage had deepened.
What Social Psychology Shows
Reams of social psychology research show that we like things more when we have to work for them. A 2014 study published in the journal Family Relations looked at 795 couples in their first marriage, finding that their relationship satisfaction was higher and they were less prone to divorce when both partners put in more time and energy and took action to improve their relationship.
The tremendous effort it took for couples to manage over this past year fortified their bonds. In fact, nearly one out of three respondents from the Monmouth poll thought their relationship improved. Over half said it hadn’t changed – a big accomplishment given the circumstances. Only 12% thought their relationship worsened.
What We Can Do Together
Confronting difficulties together can be frustrating for a couple, but the experience can improve their feelings of passion, closeness and commitment. As couples rose to meet each new challenge during the pandemic, like finding toilet paper to making masks or getting vaccinated, they were left stronger and more prepared for the next challenge. We too easily forget that our relationships are amazingly resilient. Couples who have been happily married for 50 years didn’t get there by avoiding hardships. Rather, they met the challenges and endured in spite of them, fortifying their bond along the way. … Couples aren’t eager to return to the status quo of taking their relationship for granted. Now that they’ve seen the importance of spending quality time together and having each other to lean on, the value of strong relationships has never been more apparent. …
Too often predictions about relationships cynically focus on doom and gloom scenarios. This sets couples up for failure by priming them to notice what’s wrong and to overlook what’s right. The fact is, our relationships are stronger than we think. Love finds a way to meet life’s challenges and to help us persevere.
(Dr. Lewandowski is a professor of psychology at Monmouth University.)