It’s common knowledge that periods like Christmas time and the summer holidays prove to be a rough time for married couples. Families are cramped together, living in closely confined quarters, and they start getting on each other’s nerves — especially if a couple’s relationship is not built on a rock solid foundation. This, subsequently, puts a massive strain on many marriages; and, in some cases, leads to a peak in divorce rates.
Jenni-Lee Goldstein, CEO of VictoriaMilan, a dating site for married and attached people looking to start extramarital affairs, reports that around these holiday periods, traffic on VM goes up between 9 to 20 times more than the rest of the year!
It seems that now, in the time of COVID-19, this trend has been exemplified. Since the onset of the infamous Coronavirus, Goldstein released a statement saying: “We’re witnessing a whopping 58% increase in traffic and sign ups from people who are bored, missing intimacy and passion, and struggling with their partner.”
Why is such a phenomenon occurring, you may wonder? Well, it’s obvious — they’re looking for an escape; and VictoriaMilan provides them with the opportunity to do just that.
Divorce Starts To Look More Appealing
Divorce attorneys all around the globe claim to be seeing an increase in inquiries from couples wishing to break it off, and they anticipate more people will file for divorce as courts reopen in later stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jacqueline Newman, a New York City-based divorce lawyer says: “It’s really a make-it-or break-it situation. A lot of the complaints I get [from couples] are they don’t bond, they don’t connect, they’re always busy and the people that want to make it work are getting a rare opportunity to do so.” Newman further added: “For every marriage that was on the brink, this is what’s going to push people over.”
Newman says that many of her clients who were, at first, unsure about calling it quits with their partner are now 100% ready to cut ties for good — adding that the considerable time spent together is more than likely influencing their decision. She says: “I have clients that haven’t been ready and they’ve been calling me now saying, ‘get me out of here.’ At this moment, there’s not much you can do.”
In China, where the virus outbreak was first detected, lockdown measures have already resulted in a massive flood of divorce filings in multiple different cities across the country. These filings began rising in March as couples emerged from quarantine. Is this a warning to the rest of the locked-down world?
The sudden skyrocketing number of filings probably happened as a result of offices being closed for more than a month, as delayed requests piled up; coupled with people being confined to their homes with their spouses for an extra long period of time, bringing underlying conflicts to the fore.
As couples spend more time together at home, it goes without saying that it could be a massive strain on couples who already had relationship problems before the lockdown. Not to mention, filing for divorce can be a costly affair — an average of $15,000 per person in the United States — at a time when millions of people are also filing for unemployment and have found themselves stuck without work. Not ideal.
The time of COVID-19 is certainly a turning point in many people’s marriages. It could also be an amazing opportunity for couples to truly connect with one another again. The hustle and bustle of usual everyday life is put aside, giving partner’s more time to actually sit down and talk with each other.
Shanghai divorce lawyer, Steve Li, from Gentle & Trust Law Firm says his caseload has increased by 25% since the city’s lockdown eased in mid-March. Infidelity used to be the number one reason that clients showed up at his office. Like Christmas in the West, China’s multi-day Lunar New Year holiday can put pressure on familial bonds. When the virus surged in late January, on the eve of the festivities, couples in numerous cities had to go through an extra two months of being trapped under the same roof, sometimes with extended family members. Yikes. For many people, it was simply too much. Li says: “The more time they spent together, the more they hated each other. People need space. Not just for couples — this applies to everybody.”
Looking For Excitement In Other Places
For this reason, it comes as no surprise that extramarital dating site, VictoriaMilan, has seen the massive rise in sign ups as they have during the coronavirus pandemic! Furthermore, VictoriaMilan has recorded an upward trend in chat threads, averaging about three times longer than usual. There has also been a notable increase in profile picture and private photo uploads, as well as profile description updates. The married and attached dating site currently boasts over 6 million members globally.
VictoriaMilan prides itself on being a number one leader in complete privacy and discretion — something which is clearly in high demand at a time such as this. They have a range of security and anonymity tools which make things easier for members to connect with one another from the comfort of their own phone — and home.
Being in isolation with your spouse for an indefinite period of time can be an anxiety trigger for some, and people certainly seem to be using VictoriaMilan as a platform to connect more — and find more flirty fun and passion — with strangers online.
This online love lockdown trend is not only limited to married couples seeking external fun, though. Sarah Black, CEO of NextLove — a dating site for single and divorced parents — says: “We’ve seen a major boost in sign ups over the last few weeks and months — somewhere around a whopping 60%!”
How to Keep Your Relationship Intact During Lockdown (and Even Improve It!)
American psychology researcher, John Gottman, proposed that certain behaviours, or what he refers to as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, lead to the disintegration of loving and romantic relationships.
The first horseman is criticism. This behaviour is defined as an attack on your partner’s character or personality, not to be confused with offering a constructive critique or voicing a specific complaint.
Especially at a time such as coronavirus, you might be keeping track of your spouse’s flaws but avoiding saying anything in the hopes of avoiding added conflict. The problem is, if you bottle these feelings up, your anger and frustration will turn into resentment, and this may come out in the form of you criticising your significant other.
The second horseman is contempt. This behaviour is defined as a kind of insult to your spouse. People can do this verbally by using sarcasm, or simply just by rolling their eyes or shaking their head.
The third horseman is defensiveness. This behaviour is defined as a counterattack, usually in response to perceived criticism from one’s partner. People employ this behaviour as a strategy to protect themselves when they might be feeling victimised. They blame their partner for causing them pain.
The fourth and final horseman is stonewalling. This behaviour is defined by extreme acts in order to avoid interacting with a significant other. People who stonewall will often stop communicating with their partner entirely, with the exception of negative non-verbal cues and gestures.
Turn Crisis Into Opportunity
People tend to deal with stressful situations by trying to rationalise the best way they can protect themselves. This might mean pushing your spouse away by using any of the four horsemen.
Gottman estimated that these behaviours are 90% accurate in predicting relationship dissolution if they are left unaddressed! In his research, couples showing signs of all four horsemen who divorced, did so approximately 5 and a half years after they were married.
A lack of relationship skills — in other words, not being open to finding solutions and not admitting any faults for relationship breakdown — is another fundamental contributor to the dissolution of a relationship. So, in the time of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to put your all into your romantic relationship.
In addition to making an effort of consciously avoiding the four horsemen, here are some other tips for how you and your significant other can come out of this crisis with your relationship intact – and maybe even improved:
– Keep track of the balance between positive vs. negative interactions with your spouse — you should be aiming for about a 5:1 ratio.
– Own your feelings. Use “I” statements when voicing your needs rather than using “you” statements to explain what you want your partner to do or change.
– Listen to your spouse’s feelings and validate their response to the pandemic as being perfectly okay. Avoid getting defensive and attacking your partner for the ways they’re feeling or acting.
– Reassure your significant other of their safety. Have a serious conversation about what safety means to each of you, and how you can keep yourselves and the other members in your household safe.
– Create a new routine with your partner that assists you in working from home as well as fulfilling any family commitments at home. This routine should include quality couple time (don’t be scared of touching, getting intimate with, and having passionate sex with your partner — in the event that you’re both healthy and virus free).
– Your new routine should also include time apart. Give one another time to work on your separate hobbies and interests, and take turns in looking after the kids if you have any at home with you.
– Make exciting plans with your partner for when the crisis is over. Of course it’s crucial to accept the reality of what is happening right now, but it also helps to acknowledge that this current situation is not permanent. Planning ahead can help keep you positive and motivated to stay safe!
– Use this time to develop healthier habits such as eating well, sleeping, exercising, meditating, or learning some new skills. These things improve your overall health and mental well-being; and if done together with your partner, can help build intimacy between the two of you.