Different definitions exist when it comes to defining “marriage’ and “family”. Although sociologist cannot seem to agree on one definition, for the purposes of this post marriage can be defined as a legally recognized social contract, traditionally based on a sexual relationship and implies a permanent union. For sociologists and psychologists relations between marital partners and family have been of great interest, and their studies have found commonalities believed to be true. Marriage forms the basis upon which a family is built, whether we choose people to call family, blood related or adopted into a family, marriage and family are key structures for most societies and are the most basic social unit. The effects of covid-19 have been far reaching and extensive with marriages and families having not been spared.
In a time of the covid-19 pandemic it may be easy to assume that social behaviour has been negatively impacted and thus putting strain on marriages and family units. It is however important to note that marriages have been on a downward decline over the last decade outside of the effects of the pandemic, therefore not entirely appropriate to associate the pandemic to the decline in marital bliss and strained family relations. The pandemic may have in some instances strained relations with changes in roles within the family unit and marriage ,with spouses and family members being retrenched from work and the death of family or spouse , however Researchers from the Kinsey Institutes condom use research team(CURT) whilst studying how the pandemic measures affected marital quality ,sexual behaviour, reproductive planning , health, and individual and family well-being ,surveyed a national sample of 1117 married individuals in heterosexual and same-sex marriage between the ages of 30-50 years, in which their preliminary results suggest that early on in the pandemic most married individuals reported a positive impact as a result of the pandemic. Although strained by the pandemic it is important that we realise that the effects of covid-19 on family relations must be understood taking into account predisposing family relations.
The covid-19 pandemic has presented us with both the good and the bad, in an effort to strengthen family ties and build healthy marriages it is important to see opportunities from the many restrictions that have come with the pandemic. To build on the good of our relationships and possibly learn new positive habits that nurture our relationships, all relationships are different and will be affected differently by the pandemic and what works for one relationship may not necessarily be for another. The first step to finding solutions going forward in our relationships would have to be honest and respectful lines of communication.
More time with family and spouse, the curfew restrictions and closing of schools and universities and working from home has meant that families are spending more time together than they previously did. This may lead to an increase in arguments, it is however important to use the opportunity to work on your communication and strengthening family ties and partaking in family activities. Games night, cooking together or even watching a movie together can go a long away in reconnecting families.
Growing intimacy, is not merely the act of having sex with your spouse but growing intimacy between partners is about falling in love all over again. Everyday life before the pandemic was just as stressful, whether it is work, taking kids to school and extra-mural activities, taking care of the needs of family and partner often times contribute in partners not setting aside intimate time, it is important to use this time together to grow your intimacy by spending quality time, cuddling on the couch, rediscovering each other’s interests and even reminiscing on the old stories of how you met and fell in love.
By Thobeka Myeza