It is not hard to imagine that quarantine can make or break relationships. After all, when was the last time you spent 24/7 together in the same space? It can lead to a baby boom, or you discover that you cannot stand each other. In China, which is emerging from a lockdown, it looks like it may be the latter.
Marriage registries in several provinces have reportedly been receiving increasing appointments for divorce. Lu Shijun, a manager of a marriage registry in Dazhou, Sichuan Province, in southwestern China, said there have been over 300 Chinese couples scheduling for divorce since February 24, 2020, reports The Daily Mail.
Since the reopening of marriage registry offices in Xi'an of Shaanxi Province, in northwestern China, on March 1, 2020, there has also been an increase in the number of couples who want to end their marriage, reports the Global Times.
An official in the Beilin District of Xi'an reportedly said it had reached 14 divorce appointments, the highest number its office had in a day. A marriage registration office in the city's Yanta district was said to be fully booked until March 18, after imposing only five divorce appointments per day since it reopened.
Marriage registry offices in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, in southern China, also had to limit the number of divorce appointments to 10 couples a day after receiving an overwhelming amount of requests.
Doesn't spending a lot of time together strengthen a marriage?
The spike in divorce appointments could be due to service delay since offices were also closed during the lockdown. But marriage registry officials also believe it may be a result of forcing couples to stay home.
"As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month," an officer was quoted, adding that the forced home isolation "evoked the underlying conflicts."
"Young people are spending a lot of time at home. They tend to get into heated arguments because of something petty and rush into getting a divorce," Lu added.
Some couples, however, allegedly decided to remarry by the time they were being handed their divorce certificate about 30 to 40 minutes after the appointment.
Now these reports mostly come from tabloids, so it is good to take it with a grain of salt. Being quarantined together can be a good time to reconnect with your partner. Still, "a quarantine experience, particularly where there are underlying issues of resentment and poor communication, could be devastating to a marital relationship." divorce attorney Laura Wasser tells The New Yorker.
A 2018 study showed that couples who live together before getting hitched are less likely to divorce. But a paper presented to the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of family researchers in the U.S., found that many couples who've been together for more than five years are prone to part ways.
Arielle Kuperberg, assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, explains that it is not living together per se that affects the success of a relationship. It's the maturity and experience to find a suitable partner and behave in ways that can sustain a long-term relationship.