Caught In a Divorce During Coronavirus

Caught In a Divorce During Coronavirus

July 22, 2020
BY: Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich

Being With Your Spouse 24/7 – And/Or Starting to Reopen

In the last few weeks, a pair of articles in The New York Times has caught my eye: “Missing the Partner You See 24/7,” and “Tackling Reopening Choices As a Couple.”

Even in a state like New Jersey, which thankfully hasn’t seen a reoccurrence of COVID-19 cases, this is obviously an odd summer for most people. And as a variety of states do ease limits or reopen, it can be stressful for couples. Let’s say you were in the midst of your divorce when the pandemic hit: if you’ve sheltered in place at your home, with your spouse/co-parent and children, what can you do to ease the tension? Let’s talk.

In the “Missing the Partner You See 24/7” article, Jessica Grose writes about how to find some connection with your spouse, and not “… rather than just passing him in the hallway like a co-worker at the world’s most existentially depressing office.”

  • Communicate honestly. Some days – blursdays, as one of our former clients coined the term – it feels like everything sucks. We know there will be an end to this pandemic, but we don’t know when – so we have to remind ourselves of that. Talk honestly with your spouse about what’s working and what’s not, be it sleep, cooking, sex, or working from home. Opening up to each other about the struggles with the kids and the day-to-day realities of pandemic parenting is one of the most important tools we have to be happy – or just to get through this time intact.
  • Celebrate the little wins. Before our ‘new normal’ days, folding a load of freshly laundered clothes, not burning the reheated pizza or simply taking the dog for a walk and getting him or her to do their business would not necessarily qualify as a ‘win.’ Now, all bets are off— so reward yourself for the little things, as a couple. Got the kiddo down? Watch that funny YouTube video your cousin forwarded. All done with the dishes? Pour a glass of wine and check out that new track on Spotify. You deserve a win.

In the “Tackling Reopening Choices As A Couple” article, Amelia Nierenberg addresses the thorny question of who’s ready to do what, when. (The article quotes a relationship therapist based in NYC: “The traditional marriage vows are ‘for better or for worse… This is for worse.” And it’s true: not everyone can agree on what to do, what they’re ready to do— I’ve witnessed it in my own family. Are we comfortable dining outside? What about having a friend over for a socially distanced drink? Taking the kids to a drive-in movie theater— and using a public restroom?

As before, communication is key. Speak openly with your spouse or co-parent about your apprehensions— and be sure to listen to your children too. While we don’t want one member of the family spoiling a fun moment for everyone, we also want to respect people who are more skittish, who are just unsure if it’s safe enough out there for them to engage. When making a decision, if going out is not in the cards, try to create the event at home, be it a drive-in movie night or a “restaurant” on the deck. These are strange times. We’re dealing with them as best we can— as we trust you are.

For more resources, check out our COVID-19 section, and continue to watch this blog for updates. For a wide range of issues related to divorce or matrimonial law in New Jersey, please be sure to talk to our New Jersey divorce lawyers or to visit our website.