Recall March of 2020. The country more or less stumbled into its first pandemic in a century and by the third week of March, Pennsylvania and its judicial system were essentially closed. For the next 10 weeks we were told to quarantine. Schools, office buildings, almost every form of activity was restricted or closed. Friends and clients opined that this had to be good for business. The business would be suppressed for a while, but a house filled with kids schooling and adults working under one roof would seem to be an incubator for marital discord.
Well, according to the Wall Street Journal’s June 26 edition, it has not panned out that way. According to data collected by Monmouth University Professor Gary Lewandowski, the preliminary data indicates that couples may have actually developed an appreciation for each other given what they endured together.
Monmouth is a polling powerhouse. Its data from January of this year reflects that 7 of 10 couples in a relationship reported satisfaction from it: up 10 points from pre-pandemic levels. 10% of respondents said they argued more while 16% reported arguing less during 2020. One-third of respondents thought the last year had brought an improvement in their relationship. Twelve percent thought things did deteriorate. Perhaps most unusual was the self-reported “troubled marriage” index. In 2019 it ran as high as 40%. The 2020 survey saw that decline to 29%.
People in the single community also reported changes to their approach to relationships. Surveys done by Match.com and OkCupid.com reported a shift in what their clients wanted. The respondents looking on these sites to “hook up” or seek other kinds of short-term gratification shifted towards more caution in deciding who to interact with and greater interest in sustained relationships.
Dr. Lewandowski concludes that these shifts may be temporary. However, he also leaves the impression that many of us may have learned something about ourselves and about the people we live with from the 13 months we have endured. Early in the process almost all of us knew of someone who worked in an industry decimated by school and business closures. Until February, I knew of no one who died from the coronavirus. Today, I can count five friends and acquaintances who are no more. 604,000 deaths, enough coffins to stretch from Philadelphia to Chicago does remind us that perhaps we should pepper life’s frustrations with a measure of gratitude and enjoy what we have while pursuing what could be.