Reports from many areas in China after the outbreak of the coronavirus are that divorces, we’re on the rise. I won’t get into whether or not to believe reports from China but if it is true that divorces are increasing then it begs the question whether or not it is likely that divorces in our country will rise as well. I think it is too early to say one way or the other, but I do have some general thoughts on the subject before we discuss how to avoid succumbing to the pressures of the virus and our national response to it.
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Divorce attorneys always have a job, especially when times are bad.” I’m not aware of any specific studies that have tracked the frequency with which parties get divorced based on good economic and social times or bad economic or social times. However, stressful situations typically do bring about the worst in ourselves when it comes to relating to our families. If your marriage was in trouble prior to the virus then the economic shutdown and stay at home orders may have pushed, you and your spouse to the edge of divorce.
The marital relationship is the most complex relationship that two people can have. No other type of relationship combines aspects of trust, communication, intimacy, family, children and responsibility then does a marriage. As a married man I can tell you that marriage is something where you get out of the relationship what you put into it. By this I mean that if you put forth effort into the relationship you have a better chance at seeing yourself through any difficult time periods. I certainly think that this time period could be classified as a difficult one.
While we are now spending more time at home than probably ever before I do not necessarily think that the circumstances align themselves well for spouses To start communicating well when they have not been able to do so previously. Yes, we all have more time on our hands and theoretically that time could be devoted towards improving communication with our spouse. However, for my experience when stress is weighing down on a couple it is more likely for that stress and pressure to divide a couple then it is to turn a faltering marriage into a steady one.
Whether or not divorce rates in China are increasing during this pandemic is an interesting topic to think about. It would be easy to draw conclusions based on statistics from another country but I’m not quite sure we can do that. I think we would all agree that Chinese culture and American culture are quite different that the makeup of the two countries differs significantly. What a Chinese married couple needs from one another and what an American couple needs from one another in the marital relationship is probably quite different. So, I don’t think you can necessarily say with any degree of certainty that because the Chinese have gotten divorce is at a higher rate since the pandemics creating that the same will be true in America
What I do think bears mentioning at this point is that a marriage that is under a lot of pressure can succumb to the temptation of divorce more readily then a marriage that is not stressed out to the max. Pressures that were previously on your marriage may have become exacerbated during the pandemic. You may have been involved in counseling or therapy through your church or through a private counselor that was interrupted due to the various shutdowns and stay at home orders that we have faced over the past 3 1/2 months. Now that we are approaching the month of August and day and to this summer, I would like to examine what factors may be in play in your marriage that could lead you towards divorce, as well as how to avoid falling off that cliff.
Do not become comfortable with the status quo in your marriage relationship
Humans are capable of making do in a lot of bad scenarios. While we are not as strong as other living creatures on earth, we are more resourceful and adaptable. We can take lemons and make metaphorical lemonade probably easier than any other living thing on earth. Think about all the different environments that human beings have thrived in over the centuries and that will speak to human ingenuity and perseverance. Sometimes when I start to feel locked in due to these quarantines and stay at home orders, I think about what other people have had to face during the history of humankind And I suddenly don’t feel so bad about our scenarios.
Water tends to find its level after a certain point. By this, I mean that we all tend to figure out how to adapt to our situation in that situation becomes our new normal. For example, if you had told us four months ago that we would be relegated to spending most of our time at home and we need to wear masks when we go to the grocery store that would have been something that the vast majority of us could never have foreseen. However, most of us have now acclimated to this temporary situation and are making the best out of our circumstances. Whether or not we are capable of doing this on a long-term basis has yet to be determined.
I think we can also apply that line of reasoning too you and your spouse. Many times, whether your marriage is strong or weak you can become used to the relationship and not seek to change things. I am of the opinion that no relationship stays the same over a long period of time. Your marriage is either getting better or worse overtime. If you are not actively working to improve the quality of your marriage, then that quality will deteriorate. This work cannot be achieved through osmosis or good intentions. You actually need to put forth effort to improve the marriage relationship.
Since we are now stuck at home for the most part it will be easy to think that just by sheer luck, you and your spouse would stumble into conversations that are meaningful which can lead to an improvement in your marriage. This is sort of like thinking that if you go to a basketball court with a basketball you can haphazardly shoot the ball towards the rim , dribble up and down the court a few times and practice your endurance by running up and down the court in order to become a good basketball player.
Anyone who has practiced a sport, a hobby or a craft of any kind can tell you that you need to act purposefully and intentionally in order to improve your performance. A golfer doesn’t just go to the driving range select a club randomly and start swinging in order to improve. Rather the basketball player or golfer should go into a practice session with the specific intent in mind as to what he or she wants to improve upon. A basketball player who wants to practice their free throws would shoot a bunch of free throws and work on their form. A golfer who wants to work on their putting we take out their putter and focus on their putting exclusively.
In the same way, you and your spouse need to focus on improving certain aspects of your marriage. I think in a general sense teamwork and communication are where most married couples can make the biggest difference in their relationship. Thinking of your spouse as a teammate and not just a person that you live with who pays some of your bills is a great place to start your spouse is not like your business partner or the student you worked with on a project in school. Your spouse is an extension of yourself and in the best case you and your spouse are one in the same.
If you and your spouse can develop some shared goals and work towards those goals, then I think if your marriage is struggling you can begin to repair any fault lines in the relationship. Let’s discuss two areas that you and your spouse can work as teammates on using communication skills. First, I will talk to you about how to develop a budget with your spouse if you do not have children together. 2nd, for those of you who are also parents I will discuss how to communicate and work with your spouse in raising children as a team.
Developing a budget as a married couple can increase teamwork
I know that the idea of creating a budget may sound like the least fun activity I could imagine. Budgets are thought of as a safety device to prevent us from spending our money foolishly. In that regard, I would actually tell you that budgets give you permission to spend money because you are assigning responsibilities to each dollar that you and your spouse earn. Allow me to explain more.
I think if you and your spouse were to combine your finances that will be a sign that you all have developed trust in one another and are willing to work as a team to accomplish goals. If you are suffering stress related to money that I think creating a budget is a practical and useful method of helping to alleviate that stress. Knowing exactly where each of your dollars is being spent can help you too focus on the necessary costs in your life, develop a plan to reduce debt and happy ball to begin to dream again. When was the last time that you and your spouse spoke openly about your James for one another in your future? Developing a budget is a great place to begin this process.
Communication and budgeting go in hand if you have not started to do so then turning off the television, putting away your phones and bringing out the old-fashioned yellow legal pad in a pen to create your first budget is a great way to begin to open the lines of communication between you and a spouse whose marriage has been on rocky ground. Not only will you start communicating better but she will begin to start sharing your hopes and dreams of one another and will invariably begin to think as a team.
Raising children as a team
if you and your spouse have children then working together as co-parents in order to raise those children will almost force you and your spouse to begin to work together as a team. Children are very good at sensing when parents have differing views on structure and discipline, when you and your spouse can work together and established norms in terms of discipline in parenting with your children then the behavior of her children improves and the nature of your relationship changes. You and your spouse will go from people who have kids together and generally try to instill discipline to co-parents who work as an effective team when disciplining and caring for children.
You do not have to suddenly become a couple who talks endlessly about each minute detail about your children. However, in my marriage my wife and I do spend time discussing our observations about our kids and working together on how to handle those changes and difficulties. If you and your spouse do not have a coordinated plan when it comes to raising your kids the nature of your marriage and your household will suffer as a result communicating as a team with one another and regarded the children will not only improve the lives of your kids but will also improve your marriage. A stable and loving family is much less likely to be impacted by divorce- pandemic or no pandemic.
Questions about divorce or family law in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material discussed in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office, over the phone or via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about Texas family law and the services that we offer to our clients and their families.