Across the country couples are spending a lot of time together in self-quarantine and already the marital sparks are flying, according to experts. In China, when lockdown restrictions for more than 10 million people were eased in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, the divorce rate spiked.
One official blamed the rise on the quarantine.
"Many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts," he told the Global Times, a Chinese state-run tabloid.
According to The New Yorker, Lawrence Birnbach, a psychoanalyst who practices in Greenwich Village and in Westport, Connecticut, predicts the divorce rate will also rise in the U.S. as the pandemic unfolds. Two of his patients have told him they are already fighitng during self-quarantine.
"They've been arguing more than usual because one person doesn't take precautions exactly the way the other one wants them to," he tells The New Yorker. "You didn't wash your hands long enough. You took the subway. Don't you care about me?"
Anne Fishel, associate clinical professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School writing for Mic, says couples in conflict should heed the advice and wisdom of Medicare-eligible partners who spend almost every waking and sleeping together even when there is not a pandemic. Many psychological studies found marriages among retired folks are the happiest of any age group, she says.
Here are their secrets to a stress-free co-existence:
- Lean on me. According to Fishel, older retired couples focus on supporting one another. No matter the age or stage of the couple, the current pandemic has revealed the need for much more mutual dependency, like counting on each other to honor the rules of social distancing and listening to their fears, she says.
- Have fewer, kinder fights. Research shows older couples have fewer fights and when they do fight, they are more likely to forgive their partners and let a grievance slide, says Fishel. "They are more likely to interject expressions of affection and less prone to voicing belligerence, disgust, and whining," she says.
- Focus on the present reality. Studies show older couples focus on the present and are better able to accept the relationship as it is. "They typically pay more attention to positive experiences, want to understand their emotions better and focus on a smaller group of friends and family," says Fishel.
"Being stuck with your partner 24/7 may leave you pondering the expression 'for better or worse, but not breakfast, lunch and dinner,'" says the expert. "But you may come out the other side with some new skills. You don't have to wait for retirement to have a stronger relationship."
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