The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be one of the most enduring times for us especially with the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) or the Controlled Movement Order (CMCO), the effect ripples throughout all aspects of life, including marriages. The marriage becomes strained due to the sudden changes that are brought upon by the practice of the ‘new norm’ which does not always lead to a smooth moving transition in the marriage.
There is a wide spectrum of reasons that can be contributed to the breakdown of marriages during the pandemic period as follows:
1. Deteriorating mental and/or emotional health of the spouse
Imposition of MCO/CMCO resulted in most workplaces enforcing the work from home culture and this new norm is inevitably difficult to adapt as married couples are now more vulnerable when it comes to balancing family and work life. Work from home may cause stress to couples who must handle their personal errands and deal with office workload. The culture of working from home at the same time having a balanced work-life is a challenge for married couples.
The accumulated stress of juggling to balance personal and work life may later translate into misunderstandings and emotional outbursts between the couple where one party refuses to support the other party to manage the stress and emotional health. One party may feel that he/she is doing more than his/her spouse. In other cases, couples may be unwilling to address the gaps in the relationship which may lead to them to be further straying away from one another.
2. Domestic violence
The underlying mental health and emotional problems addressed above may also in the worst-case scenario escalate into physical violence towards the spouse. Alternatively, the abuse may also be in the form of emotional blackmail which is done to manipulate the victim. Sometimes in cases where the spouse is financially dependent on the other, that is also another means of abuse where there is a restriction in the usage of money or deliberately depriving the victim of their needs. In severe situations, especially during the MCO/CMCO, the victim cannot even escape the abuser.
3. Financial problems
The downturn of the economy during the pandemic is significant with many people being retrenched from their jobs or forced to take a pay cut. The stress of losing income may affect the relationship where there has been a constant source of income. Misunderstandings and problems occur when couples cannot take a stand in cutting down expenses or where one spouse is forced to become financially dependent, ego and pride take precedence over love, affection and understanding between one another. It may be a nightmare for some spouses following the ‘work from home’ order as it would mean that they can no longer escape from their out-of-work spouse under the same roof and are forced to spend time together in a confined space with lingering tensions in their relationship.
Granted, the above is not exhaustive list; they are quite common causes of a breakdown in marriage that leads to a divorce. The marital breakdown can occur for different reasons other than the ones enlisted above. Regardless, readers are always encouraged to seek professional advice from a lawyer to resolve their divorce/marital issues in the most amicable manner abide by the law.
Jazzmine Khoo Wei Ching is the founder of Messrs. Jazzmine Khoo & Associates, a law firm that specialises in the practice area of Matrimonial & Family Law.