Lockdown Means the End for Many Couples

  • By Kim Su-jin

    May 23, 2020 08:19

    More and more couples cooped up in lockdown are getting on each others' nerves to the extent that the divorce rate is feared to spike.

    In Japan, a new business has already sprung up offering people places to stay away from their pesky families. The founder of the business got the idea when he had an argument with the woman he was living with in lockdown.

    "Conflict between couples could become an issue when family members spend extended periods of time together because irritating traits of other family members become more pronounced," said Jeon Hong-jin, a psychiatrist at Samsung Medical Center. "This is similar to couples suddenly spending all their time together after retirement."

    Han Seung-min, a psychiatrist at a clinic in Seoul, said, "If couples have a good relationship they don't suddenly start fighting just because they spend more time together. It's couples who have a history of quarrelling or harbor grudges against each other who can find themselves increasingly in conflict."

    He encourages accentuating the positive. "We should focus on each other's good points, express gratitude more often and have frank conversations." In other words, stop thinking that staying at home is claustrophobic, and use the opportunity to boost communication with your spouse. "We can spot our spouse's weak points when we're together, but good points stand out too."

    The brain tends to rationalize decisions people make once they have announced them. "If we say thank you even though we don't really feel that way, we come to think that way and conflicts can be reduced," Han added.

    Jeon proposes taking three minutes before blurting out negative emotions, which tend to flare up and die quickly. "Take three minutes to breathe slowly when you're angry, which helps control emotional outbreaks." But if fighting still persists, the help of a professional might be the best option.

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