Identifying COVID Cabin Fever in Your Divorce Plans
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted October 13, 2021
2020 was a crazy year of lockdowns and cabin-fever. We stuck it out, we worked at home, we held it together for months. During this time, we knew everyone was going to go a little nuts. Stuck at indoors with your entire family for days and weeks is enough to rattle anyone’s nerves, no matter how much you love your family. Couples who both wound up working at home have faced the greatest challenge, learning not only to live with your spouse but to work next to them as well.
Believe it or not, it’s perfectly normal to suddenly hate the way your spouse types, the pens they leave scattered on the kitchen table, or the sound of their throat-clearing across the hall. It’s normal to suddenly find their jokes less funny or even find the fire in your marriage fading after years of healthy smolder. With the Delta variant sending spouses back to working at home, frustrations are at a peak.
Here at Split Simple, we focus on finding the best solutions for every Denver couple considering divorce. One thing we have noticed in the recent months is that many couples contemplate divorce as a response to COVID lockdown frustrations, whether this is a case of cabin fever or stress-revealed matters that require a swift and permanent separation.
COVID Divorces are On the Rise
If you’re thinking about divorce right now, you’re not alone. COVID introduced a new level of stress, access, and closeness that can put pressure on any marriage. In some situations, that stress revealed real relationship severing flaws in the relationship. In others, stress alone has been enough to create a rift between spouses. The kind of stress we’ve all health with can amplify any troubles, whether they are boredom or dishonesty.
However, if your primary motivation for divorce is that you can’t stand each other anymore, it might be cabin fever. This is a common symptom of two people, even loving people, locked in a house for too long. Is it over, or COVID cabin fever? In the process of planning for divorce, it’s often a good idea to take some personal alone-time to figure out your feelings and plans. In this time, many have found that their need is to return to a normal level of intimacy – with some time alone as well as time with your partner.
Here are some of the leading reasons why COVID lockdown conditions have been causing marital rifts:
You Weren’t Meant to Be Co-Workers
So many loving couples love to spend their free time together – but make terrible co-workers. Enjoying each other’s humor and taste in movies is not the same thing as having the same work style. Millions have no idea about how their spouse works, if they tap a pen or pace around or shout on the phone. You might be offended, bothered, or just plain maddened by working in the same place as your spouse. When you’re not distracting each other, you find yourself wanting to fight.
Both spouses sent to work from home could be the worst thing that’s ever happened to your marriage. It has been for many others. Consider where the source of the conflict is coming from. If one or both of you could start commuting again, you may find that most of the accumulated stress on your relationship is also lifted.
You Really Do Need Personal Space and Alone Time
Most of us get our alone time on the commute, eating a quiet lunch at work, or being at home before your spouse comes home from work. You may not even realize how important that alone time really was, it didn’t seem that important at the time. But now that you’re at home with family present all the time, you just can’t relax and unwind. When you can’t relax, stress stacks up and soon every little irritation is like an explosion in your brain.
In a relationship, that kind of lack of personal space can feel like being tired of your partner. Needing alone time, without realizing it, can feel like hot fire every time your spouse tries to be close to you. You may stop enjoying their company and even the sound of their voice when, really, you need to hear zero voices for a little while to regain your center.
Look for COVID-safe ways to spend a little time alone. Take hikes in spacious parks and trails. Go for a bike ride or take a long drive. Even at home, you can ask your family to leave you alone on the back porch for an hour each evening. Take a weekend in a hotel if you want lots of space, or enough alone time to become appreciably lonely for your spouse again.
You’re Fighting to Beat the Boredom
Shakespear invented the word boredom to explain why people do crazy things when there’s nothing to do. Locked down at home, boredom was one of the unmentioned overwhelming emotions of the pandemic. The TikTok videos alone reveal the creativity inspired by the epic boredom of lockdown. However, some people found themselves fighting with their spouses instead of making cook-pot music videos. In fact, you both may be complicit in the decision to fight instead of perish from the endless single day of lockown at home.
If you think this might be the case, take a deep breath. First, you and your spouse may need some distracting plans and hobbies. Second, it may be time to decide if this fighting has brought out some real problems and hostility or if you want to make the offer to walk back your semi-recreational conflict.
Bad Decisions Were Made
Not everyone made the best available decisions to handle COVID. Some fell into substances, some developed an obsessive news-reading habit. Some made financial decisions that didn’t work out and some tried a new job that turned into a nightmare. These less than great decisions can also impact the family – and your relationship. Maybe your faith in your spouse was shaken by a decision they made or a lockdown habit they developed. Or maybe your own mistakes are tearing you away from feeling connected and close to your spouse.
In many marriages, the new-normal means walking back those bad decisions. Habits can be changed, finances can be re-planned. Even hearts can often be mended. Take stock of how handling COVID imperfectly may have impacted your relationship. Give yourself and your partner a second chance to make better decisions, or decide you’re really done and the last mistakes were the marital deal-breakers.
Your Spouse is Stressing Out
Sometimes, the issue is not your own stress, but your spouse’s. Maybe they’re the one not handling the cabin fever well, and their stress has been setting you off. Maybe you feel heavy trying to carry them through this hard – seemingly endless – COVID crisis. Or perhaps they’re the one feeling waspish and snapping at you every day. While you may not be blameless (none of us handled lockdown with perfect apomb), it’s OK to face if your spouse is the one suffering the most from the COVID changes.
Taking this view can help you gain perspective on the real state of your marriage. It’s very likely that even if your spouse is being terrible right now, it’s possible that a few applied cabin fever relief techniques can reveal that their rage or depression is much less personal than it seems.
Planning a Denver Divorce after COVID
COVID divorces are on the rise, and have been since 2020 when lockdowns introduced the at-home stressors. If you are planning a divorce during this ongoing COVID situation, establish personal space and alone time for yourself. You may find this gives you the perspective and peace of mind to re-approach your relationship, or to clearly plan your path out when that is the best answer.
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