The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges we as a society have had to face in recent times. Everything beginning from businesses to interpersonal relationships has borne the brunt of its devastating effects. The privilege of being in isolation with your family — however, could have its own repercussions.
Numerous reports spoke about how couples in China filed for divorce immediately after the revocation of the pandemic. A report published by ICS (Institute of Chinese Studies) revealed how marriage registration offices of various districts received a whopping number of divorce cases after the lockdown lifted in February 2020.
In another instance, local newspapers have reported a 30 per cent spike in divorce rates in Saudi Arabia. In fact, divorce applications skyrocketed across the UK (and around the world), and leading British law firm Stewarts logged a 122 per cent increase in requests between July and October, compared with the same period last year.
The downfall of marriages
Although alarming, the numbers don't come as a surprise to most. The crippling realisation that of our dispensability has paved the way for infinite insecurities. "This (COVID-19 lockdown) was something unprecedented," says Ms Tiesta Duggal, founder of Navyam, The Mind And Soul Abode. "In a world of stress, where we tend to pile up so many of our emotions and feelings, a situation like the pandemic led not only a massive rise in individuals having a hard time understanding and managing themselves but also managing their relationships and marriages," she adds.
Apart from going through a lockdown, a lot of us struggled with coping up with separation. After the social media (bravely) explained to the world what 'zumping' (dumped over zoom!) means, there's barely anything left to put into words.
Tanvi Kapoor, who lived with her partner before the lockdown, had a tough time dealing with her 'virtual' break-up. "Both of us had to go back home after the announcement of an outbreak," she tells The Bridge Chronicle. "Sometime after that, we broke up virtually," Tanvi adds. Even though Tanvi and her partner were contemplating staying together, she replies how it would've been better face-to-face. "Of course, it would've been a lot better had we been together when the break-up happened, instead of being over a call," she concludes.
Tulika Chandra, a counselling psychologist at United We Care, blames this on the lack of activity and exercise that contributes to irritability.
"Not everyone could incorporate a health exercise or yoga routine in their lifestyle," she says. "It would give way to certain health concerns, or not feeling that good in your body. And when you as a person are not feeling good, you bring that essence and presence into your relationship," she adds.
She further mentions how the atmosphere of despair adds to the build-up of uncertainties, paving the way for conflicts. "This was a situation where there was no control, and it led to some amount of frustration, which obviously impacts marriages negatively," states Tulika.
"I had to part with someone very close to me during the lockdown. It (the relationship) had almost driven me to depression with its toxicity," says Kavya Jain, a resident of Mumbai (name changed on request). It wasn't until the COVID-19 pandemic that she happened to reconnect with someone who had previously been a cause of a severe mental health downfall. "But that was for its own good, and I try to take it positively. It changed me as a person," she states.
On asking her if her things would've been better had there been no pandemic, she respectfully disagrees. "Not that I can think of, because had there been no pandemic, we would not have bothered to reconnect," she tells us. "He wouldn't have been idle enough to think of me, or perhaps I wouldn't have had the time to entertain him."
Amid the days of retrospection, some even realised that their relationship was no longer serving its purpose. "Before the pandemic, several people were swaying with the time, and a lot of relationships were about coexisting however during the lockdown people explored and discovered aspects of themselves and their partners -- like never before -- considering the time they had to spend together," says Tulika.
But unbelievably so, the hopelessness that ravaged a lot of our relationships also had a brighter side. "There are always two sides to everything," says Tiesta. "While we have seen challenges and issues in marriages growing, there also been has a rise where people have actually gotten the much needed time and space together, reignited their passion, found each other back and worked through their issues to find the love back," she continues.
We found love in a hopeless place!
For several, being cooped up in a house during isolation wasn't so bad! Tiesta further emphasises that during this period of uncertainty, people have rediscovered their passion and purpose.
For Delnaz Bharucha (name changed on request), who moved abroad to study a year before the pandemic, the isolation was an opportunity for her to get to know her partner better. "Where I stay, there weren't stringent restrictions, and I was allowed to visit him as often as I wanted," states Delnaz. "It was like being in a cocoon with him, and there was no interference from the outside world for days on end," she adds.
Delnaz and Hrishabh began dating early in March, and while the first year is supposedly the most 'exciting' one, 2020 had other plans for them. "The lockdown sped up the time we'd otherwise take to get to know each other better, and maybe the nature of our relationship would've been different in any other scenario," she tells us.
It isn't at all surprising how the testing times have been different for different people.
"This is because we've come down to a minimalistic living. There's no need for spending anything, no need to buy anything extra," explains Tulika. "Essentials like food and shelter are enough. When they (couples) felt healed, it ended up impacting their relationship positively," she continues.
Towards a better future
The post-COVID world appears a lot more different in every aspect. Several businesses have sprouted after being conceived during the isolation. Employers, too, have conceded that working from home is a viable alternative. Tiesta further reinstates how relationships will have a post-COVID system in place soon enough.
"In cases where people have worked through their issues and chosen to be together, I feel that in the post COVID times, people would have:
More respect for each other's time and space
An increased sense of compassion in people
However, these vary from person to person and how couples choose their path depends on them personally," she cautions.