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April 19, 2021 9:30 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Dr. Brad Wilcox to discuss the surprising decline in divorces since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and speculate why this is the case.
Welcome to family policy matters in engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rustin, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fold better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to Yvette Griggs thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters last year. There've been several unplanned social experiments, not the least of which are insights into America's marriage culture. Despite many experts anticipating a sharp rise in divorces as couples suddenly are faced with dramatically more time to gather the data seems to be showing the exact opposite will hear to help us unpack some of the marriage lessons of this pandemic experiment is Dr. Bradford Wilcox Dr. Wilcox is director of the National marriage Project at the University of Virginia Senior fellow of the Institute for family studies and visiting scholar at the American enterprise Institute. Dr. Brad Wilcox. Welcome to family policy matters great to be here with you today we see a noticeable change in the divorce rate after pandemic shutdown started in the March 2020 we did know the funny thing was that there were like wars last spring in China and a lot of journalists ridiculous by giving you our cabin fever being on the idea here, but in reality we saw pretty market downward spike in divorce actually in the spring and summer.
Last year, closing in on the average divorce powder now what that means in the fact that we feel a lot less divorce you in the last year and 1/2 than we would normally see. I play devils advocate here.
Is it possible that our drop was due to offices being close down that kind of thing you know who wants to go into an attorney's office are going to court in the middle of a global pandemic, the part of the story here what you have seen in previous major collective traumas like the great recession of about a decade ago.
A similar decline in divorce as well. From the point that I'm kinda getting at here is that I think in the face of some major collective traumas major kind of collective emergency.
A lot of people become more likely to turn towards family and friends rather than turn away from that include turning away from one spouse. So let's talk about the kinds of relationship negatives that we may have seen that were emphasized or uncovered during this past year really is no a large minority of folks who are reporting increased stress about 1/3 of couples who are reporting that the more stress in the last year, but I think it's interesting that means that a majority of couples are not reporting more stress in their marriage. Melvin Libby stress obviously in the broader world. There is obviously but was striking the talk about people perceptions of their marriage is only about 1/3 of the motion marriage per se was more stressed by covert crying. Even with that a lot of these people having children home and on and a lot of maybe financial difficulty which is pretty surprising and the stress was definitely more noteworthy among folks with financial fortunes decline in the last year so that's kind of consistent what you expect the wording about covert is by the time we had summer last year there were plenty of people who work doing fine financially written better financially enough in some sectors of the economy so there were some benefits of this time, a slowing down for all of us are for many couples, especially in and families are some of those yet you I spoke to a couple here in Virginia and the wife basically said when things first shut down the Tolbert. It job they were scrambling the kind of figure out how to both do their two jobs and care for the young daughter and in about that required a lot of juggling a lot of work with but we got into a new routine where the husband was working at my wife's working during the day, assuring that your daughter eliminated all of their community and they took more time for long walks around the neighborhood. More time for kind of being together as a family and so as things come and netted out for them over the last year, you know, they reported their marriage is stronger and better and more family focused fact, the husband, quit his job and start his own business to be us more time to be at home with his wife and daughter service comes one example of the way in which some obviously couples and some families have, drive belt, statistically speaking we see in the research is that about 51% of couples favorite their commitment deepened and covert time 50% so that there appreciation for their partner deepened and covert time.
So that's obviously majority in both cases. While that's actually pretty pretty amazing. Definitely gonna bump against you in some immediate servants about once just come but we walked down and stressed, and not denying that that's a reality but I think you also get you first see how when times are tough. People often turn more closely towards their spouse and their kin and their friendship sounds like at least that the man in the story that you just told us learn the lesson that ended up changing his life. So, are there lessons that the rest of us can take away from this unusual time so that we can strengthen our marriage even as we go back into more normal times, yeah, I think the one thing it's important to recognize is that a lot of people more time doing trees like playing games and taking walks and we know these are kinds of things that generate a sense of solidarity and satisfaction meaning in our lives and so hopefully one for going for us to move back towards normalcy right now is that we should be more intentional carving out time for family games or family hikes or other kinds of sugars, activities, and allow them time to spend time outside because we all get more exercise, more and more outside time when we talk about divorce and marriage. Of course it's important to talk about the dropping marriage rate and the increasing age of marriage in American society. So what should we take away from those two trends as well letting the good news here is that the existing marriages and amenities are being formed, you know, as we speak in a sense this year are to be stronger-the bad news is that I think there to be fewer Americans freedom without getting married but one study from Bourbon Street suggesting about 30%, 35% of adults today will never marriage is like, record territory, basically right in those goods that come from marriage are well documented. I think got me there is any number of things from being happy year or two being less lonely to being before men left suicidal and of course financially. There's just no question that adult men and women who get and stay married much better shape financially both, but any point in time, and especially if you have into retirement resource molecular classics like a 401(k) or like a home that protect them financially as we move into their golden years in their late 60s and 70s and only one benefit that I think you see from the last year you you wrote up an article entitled: 19 is killing this soulmate model of marriage good. So first of all, what is the soulmate model of marriage and why do you think it's good that it's kind going away model marriage is that there is, but there's one perfect person for you so you complete you and you know bring your life a tremendous amount of, and then also there's an idea to emotionally last basically as long as you come if you feel it. You know, as long as you become intense, emotional, romantic connection with your spouse and the soulmate model was kind of especially dominant 1970s woman suffrage a huge spike in the divorce but still obviously has a big impact on how you think about love and marriage when charging the piece imparted for the after people get married in more recent years become more realistic about marriage and can't come to appreciate about much with Mr. emotional about, glazing family together and protecting the welfare of your children establishing a good financial minister be there for you can't you know for your parents for your will (just touch the point I'm making is that I think will, shifting in some ways towards a more family first model marriage. People are recognizing marriage about much more than their individual emotional well-being is about a broader way of good, especially the welfare of their kids, but also the welfare of their camp.
I think over the has made people more likely to kind of realize marriage variety of goods not just of the combat romantic or emotional fulfillment. As you become of realize it's just it's good to have a partner in the house you open you lease the kids helping you care for your elderly parents you help bring money into the household. So the point is that I think covert has helped us to see that marriage is about much more than how we feel up in a one point intermarried life. Can you blame anywhere for that whole soul mate model of marriage. Where did that come from closing the other zombies.
You agree one romantic history that we can see in the last of the league. Obviously, you see, this is the romantic idea in the Bible expressed as well. It's not entirely bad thing obviously. But the point is you don't want to kind of thinking that marriage is just about kind of an intense, romantic or emotional connection. It's about a lot more than that and I think in particular recognizing it's about being dedicated to the good of your spouse have any kids that you have our primary concerns until because about. We have some ideas about fidelity and ideas about lifelong marital commitment that should be guiding us and have historically guided many of us over the centuries. See study marriage and you teach about marriage, but are you also married yes just celebrated 25 years of marriage, summer well congratulations so tell me, did you without being too personal. Did you come up with some takeaways that are especially meaningful to you and that you'd like to share with our listeners what I think over the years. One thing that you know my life I will try to be grateful about is going for date night at least one night a week and important Google research tells us about having the time to support us if the couple is so important degree because we have a lot of kids so as An opportunity to get away from the chaos of a large family and just to spend time together is important. Cultural dimensions of communion. I think another thing that cannabis is stripping some studying this topic over the years is seeing how much research tells us that men and women deal with your conflict, difficulty differently so John Gottman, the psychologist of dishwashing prep students tells us that minimal, shut down chemical into the case if you will, metaphorically speaking, in the face of conflict or disagreement and by contrast, wives are more likely to serve sheep to talk through and tenant get emotional support in the midst of difficulties or conflict, and given that difference it can make for your rather difficult situations. You know when the difficulty emerges when there's a conflict fight, etc. in American General insert name and marriage manipulation country serve. Seeing that research and recognizing there is a difference in how women and men often approach note, do difficult situations has made it easier for genuinely just to laugh when I'm like in the face of some kind of conflict and discount shutting down should go see it happening in real time and likely should become initially expressing concern that something, and rather than trying to fix it for her. You know, I will discuss the empathetic interest to focus on on listening while expressing emotional support to her. The point of making simply zip recognizing draw thinking. Gender differences in how we deal with difficulty and conflict in trying to be responsive in ways that meet the needs of our spouse, not ourselves doing it with a sense of humor has been really helpful for us as a couple were just about at a time for this week before we go where listeners go to learn more about your work on this and many other important topics related to marriage, family and society, family studies.org is the best place for not just my work with the work of many colleagues of mine, working, writing about or studying family life, both here and abroad, and I'm on twitter at Wilcox NMP and by trade a lot of family research out on a regular great Dr. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National marriage Project at the University of Virginia.
Thank you so much for being with us today on family policy matters.
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