Pandemic & Relationships: Research Reveals COVID-19 Stress Tested Most Marriages

In a physical building or structure, stress shows the cracks, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Stress in relationships is like that too. But stress can also be a test of resiliency and strength. Few events have been more anxiety producing and testing than the COVID-19 pandemic.

As society returns to its post-pandemic new normal, the impact of the past 12+ months will continue to be revealed. For some, the threat brought couples closer. For others, sheltering in place or living with the threat of the virus created conditions that made it impossible to hide irreconcilable differences.

While the stress of the pandemic challenged already shaky relationships, a recent survey of more than 1000 married individuals conducted by the Kinsey Institute revealed that it may have solidified healthy marriages and partnerships.

While two-thirds (63%) of respondents admitted that the pandemic was stressful to their families, 82% indicated that surviving the COVID threat made them feel more committed to their marriages. Almost three out of four (74%) said that the pandemic strengthened their marriages even as it tested the bonds of their commitment.

A whopping 85% agreed that the pandemic helped them appreciate their spouses more than they had before the pandemic. In fact, they said that the stress of the global pandemic brought their families closer together —despite the challenges.

Of course, the pandemic did reveal weakness in relationships as well. A little over one-forth of respondents admitted COVID-19 was damaging to their marriages and caused them to question their commitments. Sixteen-percent found the pandemic brought forward the irreparable issues that already existed in their relationships and prompted them to consider separation or divorce.

The unprecedented global shut-down may have provided many valuable lessons for individuals and couples to be grateful for what they have — and to not tolerate what’s unacceptable.

Whether the pandemic solidified or diluted your relationship, recognizing the impact is important. If you’re feeling the post-pandemic stress, working with a skilled therapist or couples counselor can help tease out the underlying problems.