The lockdown has put many marriages in India to the test. Here are some of the issues that couples have had to battle during Corona times.

From the crashing job market to the overwhelming fear of the virus, we have all been struggling to navigate our lives through this coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown restrictions only intensified the struggle. As we adjust to the new normal of being indoors at all times, marriages, households, and families, in general, are being put to the test. While this constant co-existence comes as an opportunity to nurture greater closeness for some, for others it has become intrusive instead. Due to the intimate nature of a marital relationship, coupled with the stress of COVID, conflicts, and disagreements that arise from constant contact may take on a more serious tone.  In such extraordinary times, even the healthiest marriages are bound to feel the strain. There are, of course, couples who have been able to cope well, but as evidenced by the rise in divorce cases and queries, the pandemic has been a test of adaptability for many. While most of Bollywood has used the trope of getting stuck in a room or a lift with your romantic interest as an opportunity for the two people to get closer, unfortunately, in reality, not all couples benefit from constant, unrelenting contact. For some, the quarantine has only uncovered harsher truths about their marriage.
Some of the marriage problems in India that the lockdown brought in are:
  1. Finances: The country’s economy and the job market have taken a serious hit during the pandemic. Many have lost their jobs, and eaten into their savings, while others are struggling to make ends meet. Financial concerns, especially for those with children, have created strife among couples. 
  2. Domestic abuse: There has been a rise in domestic abuse cases throughout the country since the lockdown started. The psychological and physical threat of being in the presence of an abusive spouse is only made worse by the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. It has been more difficult than ever for the victims to reach out for help and protection as well.
  3. Mental health: This year has undoubtedly been a trying time for the mental health of most across the globe. The lack of semblance of normality and the drastic change in routines have pushed us to reluctantly adapt to the changes. At a time when we are struggling with keeping our own mental health in check, having to be there for our partner through their struggle with the same has created unnecessary clashes.
  4. Lack of ‘me or personal space: As important as it is to spend quality time with your spouse, it is also essential to have some alone time to oneself and a certain level of independence. Being in the constant presence of one’s partner can potentially make it feel like there is nothing left to discover. With no room for boundaries, one may likely feel suffocated and irritable as well. 
  5. Imbalance in contribution to house chores: In India, even today, much of the household duties are the responsibility of the wife. However, due to the lockdown and the subsequent restrictions, the division of labour in terms of house chores has been pushed to change. Individuals who used to spend most of the day outside the house at work now have to do laundry and whatnot. If both spouses are not willingly sharing the load, it can lead to a lot of friction in the relationship. For those who had to let go of their domestic help, the change has been a tough one to tackle. 
  6. Screen time: As people are advised to stay indoors, online platforms for working and socializing have now become the norm. Social media has taken it upon itself to ensure people are connected, despite the social distancing rules. Given how addictive social media can be,  it has become more difficult than ever to disengage from the world and connect with those who are physically present. Even though it has become necessary to resort to gadgets to ensure we can work and stay connected with others,
  7. Physical intimacy: While sexual activities are great stress-busters, the myriad of stressors occupying the minds of the partners through this lockdown have cooled things off under the covers. It has also created a mismatch between the sex drives of partners, wherein one partner may want to initiate but the other would rather not. Building sexual frustration can potentially make the partner feel unwanted and undesired, adding more pressure on the relationship.
  8. Pent-up emotions/resentment: For those couples who had been struggling with issues in their marriage before the lockdown, being in the constant presence of their partner has dredged up issues that lay dormant for long. Disappointment, resentment, frustration, and uglier emotions are brought to the surface that can no longer be pushed under the rug, making this imposed time together feel like being caged. Unless these feelings are addressed and tackled as a team, they’ll only make it more difficult to share a space as partners. 
  9. Children: With the schools and playgrounds shut and children at home all the time, the rules of parenting also have to be updated. Children need to be educated and entertained at home. Navigating parenting in such difficult times when the parent is riddled with concern for their child’s health, can be a tough job. Disagreements regarding parenting decisions have also caused a rift between couples with children.
  10. Ineffective communication: An open channel for healthy communication is crucial for all fulfilling marriages. With the stress levels so high, it has been a challenge to work as a team. Boundaries have become unclear to navigate with the lack of personal space and the novelty of the circumstances. When our partners’ actions fall far from our expectations as we see them struggle through these times, we find ourselves reluctantly letting go instead of communicating our needs to not burden them further. Caught up in our own work and household chores, we are not able to take the time to express emotional support and lend an understanding ear to our partners.
  Lockdown or not, marriages and important relationships in general require effort. While some marriages may have hit a dead-end, others may be able to resolve their issues over time with time and patience. Work together as a team to nurture your relationship so that your marriage comes out stronger through these difficult times. Learning to manage these issues might help you enjoy this time together. Here are some thoughts to consider when things get difficult between you and your partner:
    • Spend some time alone and invest in self-care activities. Give each other space. 
    • Spend quality time with your partner. Disconnect from the online world and reconnect with your spouse. 
    • Be patient and supportive. Try not to pick a fight over small matters. Practice stress management techniques and relaxation exercises to cope with stressors better.
    • Be careful not to use your partner as an emotional dumping ground. Respect their boundaries.
    • Do your share of the work in managing the house. Take the time to appreciate your partner’s efforts. Notice and acknowledge their progress. 
    • Take the time to sit down and talk about your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Communicate your needs without attacking or criticizing your partner. 
    • Take responsibility for your actions and apologize sincerely if and when you go wrong.
    • Consider seeking out a mental health professional if the situation is intensified 
    • Do not hesitate to reach out to the local police or other helplines if you are afraid for your safety or that of your partner.