COVID-19 has caused a pandemic in many people’s love lives
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
In addition to the divorce rate increasing, there has also been an increase in demand for private investigators to spy on unfaithful spouses.
Since March, many people have been staying at home. And this prolonged time with couples at home under stressful circumstances has put an emotional strain on some marriages. The irony appears to be that couples spending more time together at home should solidify and strengthen a relationship and marriage. However, that is not the case; since the emergence of COVID-19, there has been a rise in the divorce rate with married couples.
In Canada, the divorce rate has increased since the start of the pandemic. Marcus Sixta, a Vancouver lawyer in an interview with the CBC, states that the sudden increase in couples divorcing is alarming: “We’re seeing an increase in inquiries regarding divorces and separation […] the areas of domestic violence as well,” he said. “It seems that what happened in China […] we’re actually seeing the same thing happening here. There is this ‘COVID bump’ in the divorce rate that we’re seeing now.”
In addition to the divorce rate increasing, there has also been an increase in demand for private investigators to spy on unfaithful spouses. Adrianne Fekete, who owns Star Quality Private Investigations in Toronto, said she saw a 30 percent increase in clientele in April. She states that COVID-19 has not deterred cheating spouses. “It just makes it more tricky and exciting for them,” Fekete told CTV News in November 2020. Trevor Haywood, president and CEO of a private investigation company in Toronto called Haywood Hunt and Associates Inc., has also noticed an increase in their services. “They see the telltale signs,” Haywood said to CTV News. “They’re hiding their phones a lot more. And the partner is asking, ‘If that call is work-related, why aren’t you picking up the phone?’”
Divorce mediator Edit Farun has also seen a significant increase in the number of people seeking to legally dissolve relationships. Farun says that the pandemic has caused a lot of stress with many couples who do not want to stay together to work out their issues. “Typically, it’s natural for a lot of couples to have friends and to go out to socialize. And now with COVID, the pandemic has created a lockdown for many families, so people are either not going to work outside of the home, or they’ve been working at home. They’re actually in each other’s spaces 24/7. So, it’s been that much more difficult and that much more complicated for families.”
On the other hand, some experts, such as Toronto-based family lawyer Ron Shulman, say that marriages end because they are put in a terrible environment like COVID. “Whenever we deal with separations and divorces, there are always underlying issues. It’s rarely triggered by one specific event that comes out of the blue. It’s usually a process couples go through until they get to the point where one of them realizes separation is inevitable,” he said in an interview with Global News. “With the COVID-19 crisis and everything that followed, everything got significantly amplified… that’s what we see from the increase of clients calling in.”
Nevertheless, Dr. Theresa E. DiDonato, a social psychologist, states the pandemic has been stressful for many people. But she notes that people need to be aware that divorce, itself, is already a stressful event. DiDonato writes in an article published in Psychology Today that “many people are not only managing the common stressors produced by the pandemic (e.g., isolation, work changes, health concerns), but they are also enduring one of the hardest life transitions, divorce. Divorce is extraordinarily stressful even in a calm world.”
Finally, Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum, a counsellor with the Couples Counseling Association in Chicago, has advice for couples who are looking to divorce during the pandemic. “So, one piece of advice I’d have is don’t make decisions in the middle of a pandemic. You might change your mind,” she said in an interview with ABC 7 Chicago. “The best way right now is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Ask kindly what you need. Ask for help. Manage expectations.”