Divorce Is On the Rise During the Pandemic—and Don't Feel Guilty If That Includes You
Divorce rates are up, but the decision doesn’t come easy to parents. Here's why divorcing during this time is still OK.
By June of this year, just three months into living la vida coronavirus, divorce rates were up 34 percent compared to the same time frame just a year before. Interest in separation peaked on April 13—about 15 to 20 days into when the vast majority of states began lockdowns, according to Legal Templates, a company that helps simplify the process of creating legal contracts.
Along with the stressors that came from the pandemic, it seems the more time couples spent together, without an outlet or escape on the bad days, the more their unresolved marital issues came to a head. On top of these frustrations taking center stage, many couples were now also finding themselves in arguments over what they found to be acceptable within the confines of social distancing and limiting group gatherings.
So now here we are, with a whole slew of parents parting ways with kids in the mix as we turn the last corner of 2020. "Just what the world needs," many are likely thinking. "Even more divorced couples than ever with a bunch of kids feeling the pain as a result of it all."
Well, not exactly. Allow me, if I may, to challenge this opinion. Because this is the 21st century, a time where divorcees need not resign themselves to sporting a scarlet letter "D" on their chests and hanging their heads in shame. It's a time when research has shown that divorce doesn't automatically mean your kid will be damaged—in fact, it may even have benefits for our children, including resilience, spending quality time with each parent, and having increased empathy.
Divorce, my friends, is no longer the word that needs to be whispered at dinner parties or between gossipy friends at your next pilates class—especially not during such a critical time in our lives. For some, divorce is a lifesaving choice full of hope.
Here are three reasons why divorce, even in the midst of a pandemic, is perfectly OK, even if there are young children involved.
Divorce Can Benefit Your Kids
Pandemic life has been hard enough on kids—without the added drama of their parents' unhappiness—so, let's focus on them; the ones who have undoubtedly witnessed the issues in your marriage for quite some time now.
Whether you want to admit it or not, they've also felt the tension brewing as COVID-19 abruptly took away our opportunities to blow off some steam outside of the house. Remember when we could just jump in the car and head over to a friend's house to vent after a fight with a spouse? Yeah, me neither—feels like so long ago! The longer two unhappy people stay married, the more your kids will be affected, plain and simple. Kindergarten-aged children who witness their parents fighting could suffer from depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems as adolescents, according to research from the University of Notre Dame.
- RELATED: What Kids Learn from Your Marriage
Divorce Can Help Your Emotional Wellness
By the end of June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported U.S. adults were dealing with "considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19." People reported increased substance use and elevated suicidal ideation. Couple that with tension in a marriage, and the feelings of loneliness, despair, and anxiety over "figuring things out" could become near crippling. As a parent, you know if you can't operate at your best, your kids won't get what they need from you.
Consider the looming divorce you're about to experience during this pandemic the airplane oxygen mask that falls right into your face during times of danger. Grab that mask and start breathing deeply, because your sanity depends on it.
Divorce Can Brighten Your Future
For anyone trying to survive 2020, the question has been, "Will our lives ever go back to normal?" But for anyone trying to end a marriage it's, "Will I ever find happiness again?"
The answer is yes to both questions. We'll inevitably find our new normal once this pandemic is behind us, and if you take on the right perspective, your life after divorce can be happy. It may not feel like it now, but the sooner you begin to view this change in your marital status as an opportunity to recreate your life the way you've always dreamed of, the sooner you can leave the "divorce is death" mentality behind.
The Bottom Line
If you've chosen to divorce during the coronavirus pandemic, it's likely this decision did not come easy. Remind yourself that this is not a want, it's a need, in order for you, your children, and your soon-to-be-ex to live the happiest life possible.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack is a mother, writer, speaker, marketing expert, and fierce girl-gang enthusiast. A native New Yorker, Michelle now resides in Miami with her 4-year-old daughter, Bella, her husband Spencer, a beautiful step-daughter, and a very needy cat. For more information on navigating your divorce with strength and expert advice, join my Moms Moving On membership community.