The COVID-19 toll is often tallied and reported in terms of deaths, hospitalizations and overall cases of the virulent pathogen.
Yet, data is beginning to show that the tragic consequences of the year-long pandemic extend far beyond the physical and into the financial, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions of our lives.
Here at Focus on the Family, our counselors report a steady uptick in calls from hurting individuals. In fact, it’s not just that we’re hearing from more people than usual – but that the challenges they’re sharing with us seem to be darker and more devastating than ever before.
Divorce was a tragedy long before COVID-19, of course, but what’s unusual is the seeming increase in those celebrating and even championing it as a healthy solution to marital woes. It’s being called a “COVID divorce,” and a writer in The New York Times who is going through one, quotes a fellow divorcee friend who reflected how grateful she was that the extra time in quarantine compelled her to dissolve the marriage.
“Everyone assumes I was wronged and that I’m embarrassed,” she said. “But I’m not embarrassed at all. I’m happy. I chose my life and myself and my kids over this partnership. I chose me over him, so this is good news for me.”
A recent article in Parents Magazine even went so far as to suggest that a COVID divorce can benefit children, increasing their resiliency for today and strengthening them for the slings and arrows of tomorrow.
It’s a lie.
As compared with children in healthy and happily married homes, children whose parents divorce are more likely to struggle academically, emotionally and even physically. Studies show they don’t deal well with change and have weaker friendships.
Let me note that we at Focus on the Family certainly understand there are cases where divorce is unavoidable and/or unwanted, and we are here to minister with compassion to those who have been devastated by the break up of their marriage.
But that does not negate the reality that divorce is a tragedy of monumental proportion for all parties involved.
Divorce is a violation of the one-flesh-for-life union by which God’s principles and truths are to be passed from one generation to another. Marriage is also the means by which the relationship between Christ and His Church is demonstrated and symbolized in the world (see Ephesians 5).
So when a marriage is shattered, there’s loss on all fronts.
If the extra time at home with your spouse has magnified existing problems in your marriage, I’d encourage you to lean into them – don’t run away from the struggles. Research shows that unhappily married couples who work through their challenges and stay married are happier years later than those who got divorced.
Speaking personally, reducing travel and having a slightly more time at home with Jean has been a very good thing for our marriage. Instead of hustling off to the airport or an early morning breakfast meeting, I’ve settled into a wonderful routine of praying and reading Scripture with her before the day takes off and I head in to Focus on the Family. I’d encourage you to consider a similar routine.
There’s no question that COVID-19 continues to present all of us with a dizzying array of challenges that are testing our mettle – and even some of our marriages. But resolve to resist the lies of the culture and protect the relationship with your spouse as if your life depended on it.
I realize that marriage difficulties can be complex and exhausting. If you’re in a hard spot, and maybe you’re not even sure if you can save your marriage, please contact us. We’d be happy to walk through your questions with you and offer some perspective or even direct you to local contacts in your area who can come alongside you and your spouse to help.
We do have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be a privilege for them to have an initial consultation with you. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).