Coronavirus: Divorce rates climb during pandemic, study says

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- The coronavirus has created a lot of stress for many people, and it’s probably not a surprise the stress spills into marriages.

According to Legal Templates, there’s been a 34% increase in divorce filings since the pandemic started.

It shows locally too.

A representative at a Knoxville law office said they had several more couples inquiring about divorce within the first two months of the pandemic.

According to Legal Templates, newlyweds made up a significant portion of the higher divorce rate at 58%.

“We’re always championing for people to grow in their relationship and sure up their marriages, and it’s been devastating to see the effects of stress and all this pressure come on relationships because of the pandemic,” marriage counselor and North Knoxville Baptist Church Pastor Joe Emmert said.

He said the pandemic isn’t solely to blame; it has simply exacerbated underlying issues.

Emmert said that as a pastor for newlyweds, he is upfront with his couples about one of the biggest issues in marriage: money.

“This person is used to doing their own thing, and this person is used to being single, now come together to become one and the finances have to come together as well. Otherwise there’s going to be opportunity for conflict,” Emmert said.

His advice is to set a budget and stick with it.

He said new couples also struggle with selfishness, to an extent, so he teaches them how to be selfless in marriage.

“Now I have to take them into consideration. And what the Bible says is I need to consider her needs above my own and for her to consider my needs above my own. And when we’re both all in for the other, then that other person doesn’t have to fight for what they want because we’re championing what they desire,” Emmert said.

Emmert has his soon-to-be newlyweds read Gary Champan’s “The 5 Love Languages”.

It teaches couples how they want to be loved (words of affirmation, touch, etc.), how their partner wants to be loved and how they can show that love to each other.

Emmert said the types of stress people are going through during the pandemic are unprecedented.

Not only are we all going through uncertainty, but job loss, death and quarantine add more strain.

Emmert said to help make it through the stress, it’s important to have a solid foundation.

Being a pastor, Emmert said the foundation is always faith. Love is the house and hope ties it all together.

“As you build on that foundation, you have to recognize there’s going to be hills and valleys, highs and lows,” Emmert said.

He said couples must always fight for their marriage and never give up.

“You’ve come together. You’ve made a commitment. You’ve made a covenant, we believe, before God. And so, this is something that you have to be willing to fight for and to adapt for, and it may mean job loss. It may mean financial stress, but it’s not easy. And if it’s for the glory of God, it’s worth fighting for,” Emmert said.

Emmert said couples should never be afraid or nervous to seek counseling. He offers couples counseling with his wife, and said there are several great marriage counselors around Knoxville.

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