Why the coronavirus pandemic is leading so many couples to divorce

She called me from a one-bedroom apartment two weeks ago, her voice quiet and shaky.

“I just cannot take one more minute with him,” she said. “I have to get divorced. Why did I wait? Now I will never be able to get out!”

As a clinical psychologist specializing in divorce, I typically get three to five calls a week from people thinking about ending their marriage. But since the coronavirus pandemic first erupted in China and spread all over the world, including New York City where I live and work, I’m now getting these calls three to five times a day.

As The Post reported, divorce inquiries among top New York City matrimonial lawyers rose 50 percent during the first week of the “pause” order in New York — double the calls they typically receive. Even “Full House” star Mary-Kate Olsen filed for an emergency divorce from her husband Olivier Sarkozy on May 18, claiming she was afraid she’d lose all access to her belongings and her apartment during the pandemic.

This coronavirus divorce surge was first seen in China. Steve Li, a divorce lawyer in Shanghai, which went into lockdown on Jan. 23 after the virus emerged in Wuhan 430 miles away, told Bloomberg News that his caseload has increased 25 percent since his city eased restrictions in mid-March. Meanwhile, the central Chinese city of Xian, and Dazhou, in the Sichuan province, both reported a record number of divorce filings in early March, creating major backlogs at government offices.

Evidence from past pandemics shows that divorces increase even after a virus subsides. A study in Hong Kong found that a year after the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, 2004 divorces in that city were 21 percent higher than 2002 levels, Bloomberg News reported.

Why do pandemics lead to divorce? Because a lockdown means spending 24/7 together. On weekdays, the typical dual-income couple sees each other for 30 minutes in the morning and two to three hours in the evenings. Time spent together on weekends is greater, but usually diluted by errands, activities and visits from friends. Now many of these couples are at home all day long, watching each other all the time!

While the usual issues, including a lack of intimacy, affairs and disputes over parenting styles, are still leading to divorce during the pandemic, I’m getting lots of complaints about how differently people’s partners are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. One woman told me she is exasperated by how controlling her husband is about the cleanliness of their apartment. “He literally wipes up my sweat when I am working out!” she sighed. Another regular complaint I’m getting: “I cannot believe how irresponsible he is being about social distancing and not taking this seriously.”

Once people see they have fundamentally disjointed ways of handling this crisis, it underscores other differences in the marriage. “Joe” called me the other day and said he was furious at his wife when she came home with their two kids and his daughter told him, “Daddy, we had such a great time with Oliver and Jane at the park.” He could not believe his wife had allowed their kids to have physical contact with other children. “How can I trust her judgment?” he asked me.

Another client, who called 311 on the bar next door for not following social-distancing rules, told me she felt unsupported when her husband shrugged his shoulders over the event and said, “Everyone needs to let off some steam.” Another woman said her “paranoid” partner won’t allow her to go shopping without him and they have to be rigidly careful, including wiping down every box of food before placing it in their recyclable bags. She told me she feels trapped.

Divorce rates increase during other times of stress, of course. A chronic illness, the death of a child and deployment in a war are all factors. But lockdown puts what’s missing in a marriage on full display. Patience is short. In the past when you might have excused your partner’s behavior and said, “They did not mean it. They meant well,” it’s now harder to feel compassion for their mistakes.

Research shows that how partners communicate, work through arguments and problem-solve will allow a stressor to either wreck a marriage or sustain it.

For the most part, the pandemic is dragging all our issues out of our dusty closets and requiring couples to talk about their frustrations, desires and needs. The good news is: If you face this challenge and are willing to work through it with your partner, you will likely come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before. And the couples who break up during lockdown were likely headed that way anyway.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen is a contributor to Psychology Today and the CEO and founder of “Afterglow: The Light at the Other Side of Divorce,” an online divorce course offering a free 14-day guide for couples who are facing tough decisions.

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Coronavirus pandemic limits luxury hotels open for Memorial Day

Nassau County, New York to open beaches at 50% capacity, give residents priority access

Nassau County, New York executive Laura Curran on working with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on slowly reopening New York beaches.

Designated pool space, by-appointment-only gym sessions and outdoor eating only is how some luxury hotels and resorts are gearing up for Memorial Day.

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The unofficial start of summer will be more isolated for those venturing out to places that are now able to accept guests during the coronavirus pandemic as states slowly start easing up on stay-at-home orders.

Hotels in beach towns like the Hamptons are opening for Memorial Day with restrictions.

Valley Rock Inn and Mountain Club, a luxury property about 45 minutes outside of New York City, sent out an email last week alerting guests that it would start taking reservations again. The Club, which has 17 bedrooms in private guest houses, keeps two days between stays to sanitize thoroughly.

CORONAVIRUS PREP FOR THE UBER WEALTHY

“We stocked up on as much Lysol and Bleach as we could get. You might feel reassured by the smell,” Michel Bruno, owner of Valley Rock, told FOX Business.

The hotel is open, but it is no longer allowing one night stays because of the health and safety measures, he said.

“We don’t want someone checking out and checking in, on the same day, ” Bruno said.

Guests have access to private home entrances and they will be given private cabana spaces at the communal pool to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Bruno says the property's restaurant will remain closed. Instead, guests can access the inn’s market and order with takeaway meals.

PRIVATE JET SERVICE BOOMS AMID CORONAVIRUS FEARS

Hotels in the Hamptons, like Montauk Beach House and Hero Beach Club, among others, plan to reopen with new policies, some with no access to pools for health and safety purposes.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND ROAD TRIPS IN THE NORTHEAST 

The hotel reopening plans have apparently jilted locals. The town of East Hampton’s board on Thursday, wrote a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to ban the opening of hotels and resorts, fearful that tourists could bring in and further spread the virus, according to Page Six.

And at luxury resort Gurney's Newport in Newport, Rhode Island, staff is pivoting to outdoor dining only beginning Saturday to meet state guidelines, and walk-ins are not allowed.

Hotels operating in Nantucket off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, meanwhile, are only open for essential workers with some like the Nantucket Ocean Resort planning to open more widely to the public in June. A number of second homeowners and renters flocked to the beach town when the COVID-19 outbreak hit in mid-March overcrowding the island, which only has one hospital.

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Robot Dog Patrols Singapore Parks to Encourage Social Distancing amid Coronavirus Pandemic

A robot dog engineered by Boston Dynamics has been deployed to patrol the parks in Singapore and to encourage residents to social distance amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The remote-controlled, four-legged robot named Spot had its first go-around on Friday, walking around the city-state's Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park while politely reminding residents to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart from one another.

In footage shared by The Straits Times, the yellow dog trots around the park and regularly broadcasts a recorded message reminding park visitors to observe social distancing guidelines.

"Let's keep Singapore healthy," Spot says in English. "For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you."

The machine is equipped with cameras to help it estimate the number of visitors in the parks, however, officials assure that they cannot track or recognize specific individuals or collect personal data, according to both Business Insider and The Times.


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Spot is currently undergoing a two-week trial before Singapore determines whether it wants to permanently deploy the robot for policing measures.

If the trial proves successful, Singapore's National Parks Board will consider using Spot at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in the morning and during evening peak-hours, as well as at other parks such as Jurong Lake Gardens.

The parks board has also deployed 30 drones to monitor park visitor numbers and has another robot, known as O-R3, patrolling the Bedok Reservoir Park.

The robot is a hopeful measure for authorities as its remote control feature allows for less physical park patrols, better-protecting park staff from close contact with visitors, and lowering the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Singapore has been one of the hardest-hit areas in Asia with 23,822 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Johns Hopkins database. It has strict lockdown measures in place until June 1, including a stay-at-home order excluding essential trips and individual outdoor exercise.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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Savannah Guthrie Gets Surprise 'Little Guest Star' with Son Charley, 3, on Today Show


Savannah Guthrie delivered the morning news with an adorable co-host!

On Thursday, the Today show anchor, 48, documented the sweet moment when her 3-year-old son, Charley,  joined her on-camera, as she appeared in the broadcast from home. Guthrie sat the toddler on her lap, shining a beaming smile as Charley waved to viewers.

"Little guest star makes a surprise appearance on TODAY today 🥰 #newcohost," Guthrie captioned an Instagram post, sharing a slideshow of snapshots from the early-morning, mother-son bonding time.

After a brief stint of returning to the studio, Guthrie — who also shares daughter Vale, 5, with husband Michael Feldman — made the decision to work from home, explaining to co-anchor Hoda Kotb earlier this month that she wants to be close to her family amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I’m home. You know, the reason, Hoda — my family is upstate, and so I’m sticking close to the family and coming to the city less and less,” Guthrie said at the time. “So I’m trying to work from home. And also, frankly, that’s what these officials are telling us to do, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

“You’re doing all the right things,” Kotb then replied.

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Last April, Guthrie opened up to PEOPLE about becoming a first-time parent in her 40s, saying that she "always wanted to be a mom."

“I definitely have a good head on my shoulders, I am able to prioritize, and I think there’s a luxury to feel calm enough and not to feel the same pressures as in your 20s and 30s, when you are really trying to make your career happen,” she said at last year.

“Now, I can really take my time and enjoy our kids,” Guthrie explained, adding, “We feel so lucky to have each other.”

Earlier this month, the newscaster revealed the ways she got creative for Easter with her kids while social distancing, telling PEOPLE that they painted eggs with food coloring and had a little egg hunt together.

“Then we had a great time. We had a family dinner and it was beautiful,” she said. “It was special. It was different, but it was special and we were counting blessings.”

And, luckily for Charley and Vale, their famous mom got inventive with the Easter baskets.

“I tried to not just do candy in their baskets,” said Guthrie. “Charley got a little plastic rake and a shovel, and Vale got some bubbles and they both got a little soccer ball and a little basketball, but it was mostly candy — which I proceeded to eat.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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