British Columbia·Point of View

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage — but what about love and COVID? 

For some parents, COVID-19 has made marriage difficult. Is a pandemic of divorce on the horizon?

For some parents, there's a growing pandemic of broken hearts and broken relationships

For some parents, the pandemic has exposed cracks in their relationship. Will divorce rates increase thanks to COVID-19? (Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock)

This story is part of Amy Bell's Parental Guidance column, which airs on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.


Relationships are never easy, and many of them change and falter dramatically when children enter the picture. But what about when a global pandemic rears its infectious head?  

For some parents, the seismic shift in their daily lives has brought up challenges they've never faced before, and forced them to address issues that were barely on their radar.

For journalist and mother, Danielle Campoamor, COVID has forced her and her partner to travel a particularly rocky road. They've faced a lot of difficulties together — from the loss of twins at 19 weeks pregnant to the stress of raising two more young children together. But with him working 12-hour shifts out of the house and Danielle working from home while taking care of their two kids, she's had to question more than just her relationship.

"This has made us not only look at each other in another way, and how we communicate, but also look at ourselves," says Campoamor. "Who we are and how we handle ourselves just as individuals." 

Are divorce and separation rates on the rise? 

In March, when China lifted its strict quarantine measures, there was a big jump in the divorce rates. Sadly, it seems we are experiencing the same phenomenon on a local level. Vancouver lawyer Marcus Sixta explains what he and his colleagues are seeing across the country. 

"We're seeing an increase in inquiries regarding divorces and separation ... the areas of domestic violence as well. It seems that what happened in China ... we're actually seeing the same thing happening here," says Sixta. "There is this 'COVID bump' in the divorce rate that we're seeing now."

Of course if you feel like you or your children are in danger, reach out for help as soon as you can safely do so. As Dr. Bonnie Henry says, "Your immediate safety is more important than physical distancing or self isolation." 

The longer you wait, the harder it is to fix your relationship

A lot of counsellors and therapists are also seeing a big increase in people wanting help. With so many of us stuck together, and unable to get space and gain outside perspective from friends, or just from a change of scenery, it's easy to see why so many families are going off the rails. But as clinical counsellor and sex therapist Diana Sadat explains, while business is booming right now, it's sadly because a lot of people waited too long to ask for help. 

"Unfortunately, after months of being tested, resentment, hardship; it's a little harder to come back from, for a lot of people," says Sadat. "There's a lot of couples coming to therapy to figure out, 'How do we end this?'" 

Every relationship has problems and needs constant care and attention to survive — it's like the most needy and delicate plant you'll ever take care of. But within the confines of quarantine and under the crushing weight of COVID, it's easy for cracks to grow and resentment to fester. And that can lead relationships to falter and, for some, to unravel. Right now, we don't know how long COVID will be around — and for many, that same uncertainty now surrounds their futures together.

About the Author

Amy Bell is a digital contributor to CBC. She can be heard weekdays on The Early Edition as the traffic and weather reporter and parenting columnist.

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