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How to Survive Quarantine With a Spouse When Facing Divorce.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty around the world. These stressors compound things for families who are undergoing a period of marital difficulty. Dealing with the prospect of a separation is hard enough, let alone when everyone is forced to remain at home and break the routines of their daily lives.

Peak separation times normally occur after periods of prolonged exposure together, such as over the summer holidays or after Christmas. In China, where quarantines are finally ending after several months, the divorce rates have spiked as “couples have spent too much time together during home quarantine”. This unprecedented rise in divorce has been driven by conflict brought on by the negative psychological symptoms of a pandemic, including anger, confusion, and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress symptoms. Other factors that increase stress levels and create conflict are the duration of the quarantine, fear of infection, boredom, inadequate supplies, and the prospect of financial loss.

So, how can you set yourself up to navigate these unique times? A quarantine can present a strange but important opportunity to be creative in your shared space. Even if the relationship is destined to end in separation, this is a chance to build positive co-parenting habits that you can carry forward. Here are some tips for surviving quarantine:

  • Focus on building your negotiation skills and constructive communication. Make sure to show appreciation to your partner, remembering that a high ratio of positive comments to negative comments is critical.
  • To reduce tension, talk to each other about what each of you is feeling. Explain your fears, anxieties, and the pressure caused by uncertainty and loss of security so that your partner understands where you are coming from.
  • Connect with others who can provide social support to ensure you are not solely relying on your spouse. Phone calls, texts, and video chats (such as Zoom or Google Hangouts) are a great way to stay connected.
  • Make sure to eat well, safely get out for some fresh air and get some exercise. Keeping your body and mind healthy will give you the strength to support your family.
  • Limit toxic voices on social media. Ensure you get your facts from reliable sources.  Turn the News off for a while. It’s stressful enough without the extra negativity.

The key is to remember that being in a small space is an opportunity to amplify both the negative and positive dynamics of a relationship. While you can’t control how your spouse will act, you can do your part to focus on the positive elements and set the foundation for a stronger relationship on the other side.