As the Pandemic Recedes, Millions in Australia Consider Leaving their Jobs, with Some Eyeing Even Greater Transformations.
Amidst the talk of the Great Resignation, recent research suggests that Australians may also be leaving behind their romantic relationships as they adjust to post-pandemic life.
The study, commissioned by amica, an app developed by family lawyers to provide support for couples going through separation, surveyed 1,009 participants who were either married, engaged, or in de facto or non-de facto relationships. Conducted in October, the survey found that one in five couples attributed the pandemic as the cause for the breakdown of their relationship, and one in twelve have contemplated separation.
In the 2020/21 period, a record-breaking 49,625 couples filed for divorce, an eight per cent increase from the previous year according to Federal Circuit Court statistics. Gabrielle Canny, National Legal Aid Director and amica project chief, stated that the findings were not surprising given the unprecedented challenges and stresses of the past two years.
Canny added that there are likely many more couples who have been holding on to their relationships but are now considering moving on without the bitterness and financial burden often associated with separations.
According to Megan Luscombe, an Australian life and relationship coach, couples who were not already on the verge of separation may have been impacted by the sudden shift from spending a reasonable amount of time together to being in each other’s company constantly.
Luscombe explained that this could cause tension in some relationships as it makes each partner more aware of their significant other’s behaviors, thoughts, and values that they may not have noticed before. As a result, some couples may have realized that they are not in a healthy relationship at all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced couples to spend more time together, leading to conflicts that some may not have been able to navigate and resolve, causing distance and disconnection in their relationship, according to relationship expert Melissa Mason. She suggests that the pandemic has highlighted potential discrepancies in the emotional and physical load that each partner carries at home, contributing to couples’ realisation of their dynamics.
Now that restrictions are easing and life is returning to normal, Mason believes that the relationships formed during lockdown may face new challenges. The increased exposure to partners in social situations and interactions with friends and family may reveal new sides to them that were not evident during lockdown. This can result in some relationships ending, as people may discover that the person they fell for during lockdown is different from the one they encounter in social situations.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly impacted relationships, Mason is sceptical that it can be solely responsible for relationship breakdowns. She believes that even if a relationship ended due to the pandemic, people should question whether it would have ended anyway. Mason acknowledges that the pandemic has directly caused conflicts and issues for some couples, such as border closures, international travel restrictions, redundancies, and financial issues. However, she argues that most relationships will face challenges in life, and they are rarely timed conveniently. In her view, a strong relationship is one where both partners can come together and weather those storms.
If you are considering ending your relationship, and it involves more than just deciding who gets the stockpile of toilet paper accumulated during lockdown, both Canny and Luscombe advise seeking professional guidance and conducting thorough research.
Luscombe suggests sitting down with a third party to discuss the reasons for the separation and what steps need to be taken for a positive outcome. For couples with children, it’s essential to address the issues that need to be resolved to ensure a healthy relationship moving forward.
She also suggests reflecting on whether the relationship can be repaired before making any impulsive decisions. Regardless of whether the relationship began during the pandemic or if it’s been a long-standing marriage, Mason advises that honesty is crucial.
According to Mason, it is essential to be honest when ending a relationship, regardless of its duration. She believes that people often try to soften the blow by providing fewer details, but this can cause more harm than good. Mason suggests that it is best to give a general reason for the break-up, such as falling out of love or wanting to be single. This approach avoids giving the impression that the other person could have done something to fix the relationship. While it is not necessary to provide too much detail, leaving room for speculation can be painful for the other party.