The coronavirus may be driving up divorce rates in a Chinese city, officials say
- As China works to contain the coronavirus with emergency quarantines, one city is reporting a record high number of divorce requests.
- Officials say it's likely due to couples who have been kept in close quarters for long periods of time without access to the outside world.
- However, it's unclear if this effect is more widespread.
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Among the unexpected side affects of the global coronavirus outbreaks, some of the more peculiar include a rise in racist pornography, the unexpected popularity of a certain 2011 movie, and a vodka company cautioning people that its product can't protect against the virus.
Now added to that list is a spike in divorce rates in China that officials say is linked to the coronavirus.
The Global Times reported that the Chinese city of Xi'an has seen a record-high number of divorce requests in recent weeks, with some districts even maxing out the number of appointments available at local government offices.
Health officials say the increase could be explained by two factors.
First, offices have been closed for a month, so are likely be hit by a wave of delayed requests now that they've re-opened, the Global Times reported.
Secondly, many people have been quarantined in close quarters, creating an especially inflammatory environment for marital feuding.
"As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts," an official identified by his surname Wang told the Global Times.
Another officials told the Global Times that many couples regretted the procedure, which can be done much quicker in Xi'An than some other places - no more than 30 or 40 minutes. Han said many decided to remarry within hours.
It provides an interesting conundrum for researchers, who cannot decide on whether time spent together in close quarters is a good or bad thing for couples.
In 2018, a study found couples who lived together before marriage had lower divorce rates in the first year, but higher divorce rates in the five years after. Another recent study found living together protected against divorce, and one found it made no difference.
Ultimately, balance is key, psychologists Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera PhD, authors of Making Marriage Work, said in an article for Psychology Today.
"A mix of time with friends and family, time together as a couple, and separate time for each partner add to marital quality, as does an equal split between our circle and activities and those of our partner," they wrote.
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