11 Ways To Protect Your Marriage From The Viral Spread Of Coronavirus-Related Divorce

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11 Ways To Protect Your Marriage From The Viral Spread Of Coronavirus-Related Divorce

The increased amount of time married couples are essentially being forced to spend together — self-isolating and working from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — ignited a spike in divorce filings.

Lu Shijun, manager of a marriage registry in Dazhou, Sichuan Province of south-western China, told reporters their office received over 300 applications between February 24 and March 13.

And just as this new coronavirus itself is spreading across the U.S., so is the viral spread of marital dissolutions.

Family law attorneys in Manhattan say they've seen a 50% increase in "inquiries from potential clients" in just the past week.

If you think that is something new or quirky, consider an analysis published in The Journal of Family Psychology in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo.

While researchers at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University initially believed couples would only grow closer and come to value each other more in the wake of tragedy and loss, this wasn't always the case.

"Attachment theory suggested that marriages and births would increase and divorces would decline after the hurricane. Time-series analysis indicated that the year following the hurricane, marriage, birth, and divorce rates increased in the 24 counties declared disaster areas compared with the 22 other counties in the state.

"Taken together, the results suggested that a life-threatening event motivated people to take significant action in their close relationships that altered their life course."

If we follow the trends, we can expect the rate divorce filings in the U.S. to rise as the coronavirus spreads.

But your own marriage doesn't have to fall victim to statistics if you take pre-emptive measures to ensure you stay connected as a team during this difficult time.

Here are 11 things you can do together as a couple while self-isolating at home to protect your marriage from a COVID-19-related divorce.

1. Take a walk together at sunrise.

Sunrise is a magical time. As the blanket of light lays upon the earth and crevices of brightness begin appearing in the eastern sky, you'll both be filled by an optimistic sense of what nature has to offer you.

2. Plan your next vacation.

Planning your next vacation (well in advance) will provide you both with a sense of happiness because it gives you something to look forward to.

You can use the time you are stuck in the house to take a virtual tour of potential locations. And with travel at a virtual standstill right now, you should be able to get some great deals for the future.

3. Men: do an extra 30 minutes of housework.

The New York Times recently reported that women still do about 4 hours worth of unpaid work for every 2.5 hours a man does the same. That’s not necessarily going to fly when both of you are stuck at home, so you'd better start picking up the slack.

Finish that project you've been putting off because something more important always came up — like sports.

RELATED: Why Couples Who Don't Split The Chores Are More Likely To Break Up

4. Take some time to just be together and talk.

And not in the critical, intrusive, complaining way that is often brought on by stress.

Talk about your thoughts and feelings while the other person actively listens. Once the listener completely understands the speaker, they can ask questions to get a deeper understanding.

Make sure you both take turns as listener and as speaker.

5. Flirt with each other again.

You've probably both gone without using this muscle for a while, but it’s time to flexing it again if you want to maintain a sense of connection.

Start slowly by sending a random love text, then progress to a soft, tender touch and a several hugs for no reason throughout the day.

6. Listen to a podcast together.

Podcasts are a great to listen to because not only are they entertaining, but you will learn new things and be inspired together.

The topics will also provide great additional material to keep your daily conversations fresh and interesting.

7. Watch an old movie.

There is nothing better than watching an old movie that reminds you of your childhood or your early years as a couple. Snuggle up and indulge in some joyful nostalgia.

8. Plan and cook a meal together.

Planning and cooking a meal can be helpful because it builds collaboration.

Working together helps improve your communication, and it can be rather fun with the right recipe.

RELATED: It's OK To Stress-Eat & Gain Weight When You're In Coronavirus Lockdown

9. Plan a virtual dinner party with friends.

If you feel the need to commune with others but want to practice social-distancing as advised, offer to host a virtual dinner party using a teleconferencing app like Zoom.

Make sure you all bring your own wine.

10. Exercise together.

With no place to go, working out together can serve as a way to stay active.

There are some many benefits to doing this. Not only does has exercise been shown to increase your happiness, but you'll grow closer as you help each other achieve forgotten or delayed fitness goals a little faster.

11. When under pressure, lean-in to their character, not yours.

As your days spent self-isolating together turn into weeks or even months, it’s inevitable that stress will come.

When we are stressed, we tend to relate with our partner in our own temperament style rather than in theirs.

For example, when a person who is a “doer” is under pressure, they tend to be bossy. If your partner is more relational, your conflicting styles may begin to damage the relationship, possibly to a point of no return.

To relate more effectively, a doer will need to take on a friendlier tone in order to get their point across.

In the days and weeks to come, the coronavirus will wreak havoc on our health, our jobs and even our way of life.

Incorporate some or all of these techniques starting now so it doesn’t also wreck your marriage.

RELATED: 10 Romantic Stay-At-Home Date Ideas To Try With Your Partner During The Coronavirus Quarantine

Keith Dent, CLC, MS, is certified Relationship Coach and the author of In "The Paint, How to Win at the Game of Love." For more information, reach out to him via email.