Quarantine doesn’t have to be a divorce sentence


Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

Illustration by Andrea Nebhut

Quarantine would be an awful time to discover your partner is really annoying or has a pesky habit you can’t disregard. And yet, just that is happening to some of the millions of Americans who have started working from home. Married couples have taken to social media to share their newly-inflamed marriage conflicts that have disrupted their work-from-home agendas. They’re not alone, however. China, who went into nationwide quarantine months before the United States, is already seeing the after-effects quarantine can have on marriage.

Divorce appointments flooded the marriage registration offices in the city of Xi’an in early March. “We started receiving some telephone appointments on March 2, and more appointments came in the next few days,” said an official in the marriage registration office in Beilin District, Xi’an in a Global Times interview.

The rise in divorce appointments is being attributed to the stresses of the global pandemic in tangent with unresolved marriage issues. “As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts, adding that the office had been closed for a month, therefore the office has seen an acutely increasing divorce appoint,” said the official from the registration office.

In China’s Yanta district, there is a limit of five divorce appointments at their offices, making it harder for newly annoyed marriage partners to book an appointment. An official from the Yanta divorce office warns couples to think through their decisions thoroughly before impulsively booking a divorce appointment. “We received some divorce appointments, and they regretted it later,” the official said. It takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes for couples to get a divorce certificate, and some couples even remarried while their certificate was printing.

Being in quarantine isn’t and shouldn’t be a divorce sentence for everyone. If you’re looking for marriage inspiration during these dark times, look no further than Katherine Codekas and Matt Smith, two 57-year-old divorce lawyers who have been married for 21 years. The couple was trapped on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, Japan. They used their time to watch some of their favorite films, including “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Valentine’s Day. Fortunately for them, their suite had a balcony which allowed them to get fresh air.

Codekas said they got along better than ever. “There were no outside influences to argue about. No ‘You gotta get groceries’ or ‘You gotta clean the litter box.’” Codekas said that when her husband was on Skype, she went into the closet to allow him space.

So if you’re feeling frustrated or concerned about all the couples breaking up, know that — although divorce rates have gone up— other couples have been getting through this difficult time one day at a time. Now is the time to listen to our partners and respect their spaces. The spike in divorce appointments has created a series of memes on the internet, but these come at the cost of very real relationships being lost.

Maybe you did marry the wrong partner, or maybe you both just need to listen to one another and understand that this is an uncertain time for all of us, and maybe, something like long-lasting love can provide a sense of certainty.