A problem of pandemic proportions

COVID 19 has brought on another unforeseen consequence – a leap in divorce rates

A problem of pandemic proportions

Creative Commons

At the beginning of March, as the Coronavirus made its first appearance in the United States, my house turned into a prison. Even though my record is clean and I have not committed a crime of any sort, I am not legally allowed to venture out of this facility. To make matters worse, my release date keeps getting pushed back by the government. Being quarantined may be helping the nation out as a whole by slowing the spread of COVID-19, but this process is also demolishing the relationships I have built with my fellow cellmates over the years.
Unfortunately, I am not the only person suffering to communicate effectively with their family members during this time; the divorce rates in China, the first country affected by the virus, have skyrocketed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. History tends to repeat itself, so if precautionary measures are not taken soon, relationships in the United States may also crumble after quarantine is over. To prevent this from happening the federal government of the United States should pay psychologists, therapists, and other mental health experts to help people salvage their deteriorating relationships.
Of course, providing counseling for couples is not the government’s top priority at this time, but this situation needs to be addressed. Right now, the government’s main focus is keeping everyone alive and healthy during this crisis, and to achieve this goal, they have to put most of the nation in quarantine. What most people are failing to realize is that social distancing can be detrimental to an individual’s emotional state. Isolation is a relatively new practice in the United States, so its impact on relationships is not conspicuous yet; however, numerous examples in the past have shown that spending too much time in close quarters with a loved one can result in a toxic relationship.
For example, social distancing in China caused divorce rates to pile up so much that divorce attorneys are being overwhelmed with work. An article entitled “China’s Divorce Rates Rise as Couples Emerge from Coronavirus Quarantine.” by Meaghan Wray, a Global News writer, explained that “It takes 40 minutes to one hour to complete a divorce procedure, and sometimes staff members don’t even have time to drink water.”(Wray) Chinese officials were hoping that the lockdown would have caused a baby boom, but in reality, the quarantine had the opposite effect. To encourage the baby boom, the Chinese government even loosened the “two-child policy,” but instead of a surplus of babies, the Chinese government received hundreds of files for divorce.
The article “China’s Divorce Spike Is a Warning to Rest of Locked-Down World” by Sheridan Prasso, a Bloomberg reporter, explains China’s plan to delay some of these divorces when stating “China’s National People’s Congress will consider a proposal for a 30-day cooling-off period for couples petitioning for divorce, during which time either party can withdraw the application.”(Prasso) Since the United States has already used China as a model to help them understand and predict what will happen next with COVID-19, it only seems fitting for them to use the knowledge on China’s divorce rates to prepare for what could happen to couples after quarantine ends.
In 2002 another epidemic known as SARS touched base in Hong Kong. This outbreak forced people to take shelter in their homes. When the coast was finally clear for people to interact again with one another in 2004, many couples filed for divorces. In fact, the divorce rate increased by 21% in China during this time (Prasso). Epidemics and Pandemics are often deadly, and to increase everyone’s chances of survival, governments often promote social distancing. Staying at home with family members has proven to protect a person’s physical health, but this strategy fails to offer emotional support. Health emergencies in the past have torn marriages and other relationships apart. If history is going to continue its repetitive cycle, the United States government should step up its game and try to put a stop to the potential spike in quarantine-related divorce cases.
By simply offering free therapy sessions to those in need during quarantine, the government could keep the divorce rate in the United States steady throughout this crisis. Not every married couple is going to break their wedding vows and file for a divorce during this pandemic, but history tends to repeat itself, so some couples might drift apart if they do not receive some outside help from professionals. I am not married, but as soon as I got locked up in my house which now functions as a prison, my relationships with my parents and siblings suffered. Typically I do not see my family a lot during the school year, so spending every waking moment with them has been an adjustment, to say the least. If I were given the chance to pick who I wanted to be trapped in quarantine with, I would not have chosen my siblings. I love them to death, but spending an excessive amount of time with my loved ones has pushed me over the edge. Not everyone will be emotionally scarred by quarantine, but if people are feeling trapped, they should be able to seek free help. The government should stop putting people’s relationship problems on the backburner because if they wait too long to address these issues, the problems might get too hot to handle all at once.