In China, couples are literally lining up for divorces: How COVID-19 could end your relationship.

When coronavirus lockdowns ended in cities across China last month, there was one thing a lot of people couldn’t wait to do: get divorced.

Newspapers reported record numbers of people turning up to government offices to start the process of legal separation.

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, resulting in long queues outside.

“Trivial matters in life led to the escalation of conflicts, and poor communication has caused everyone to be disappointed in marriage and make the decision to divorce,” said Yi Xiaoyan, the registration centre director in the city of Miluo.

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Video by Mamamia

Meanwhile, Shanghai divorce lawyer Steve Li told Bloomberg Businessweek that people wanting to separate after lockdown had boosted his business by a quarter.

“The more time they spent together, the more they hate each other,” he said. “People need space.”


Across Australia, many couples are suddenly finding themselves together 24/7, with no idea of when it will end. Some are struggling to keep up with work while also overseeing their kids’ schooling. Others are dealing with the stresses of being unemployed. Tensions are high.

So will we see the same situation in Australia as in China? When restrictions on leaving our homes are finally lifted, how many of us will want to walk away for good?

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast The Split discusses navigating separation and divorce. Post continues after audio.

Nick Tebbey, the national executive officer of Relationships Australia, says this is a stressful time, in a lot of different respects.

“Being in each other’s pockets is bound to exacerbate tension and potentially bring to the surface niggling things or things that might not have become such a big issue if the normal daily order was in place,” he tells Mamamia. “It’s just about trying to work through those as a team as much as possible so as to avoid any long-term consequences.”

Here are some tips for couples who want to ease the strain on their relationships.

  • Talk things through. Divvy up responsibilities early on to avoid fights further down the track. “Even in my own family we’ve had to try very hard to plan things out so that we know what everyone’s expectations are on any given day and who is going to be looking after the children at what point,” Tebbey says.
  • Plan a routine for the day. Get the whole family involved, write it down and stick it up on the wall. “We can’t control what’s happening outside but if we feel like we have a little bit of control over what’s happening inside our homes, that’s actually going to do wonders for our mental health.”
  • Make sure everyone has alone time, if they want it. Tebbey says families might need to set aside designated spaces in the house where people can be alone. “Often when you’re stuck in close proximity with other people it’s actually really important to still find time for yourself.”
  • Find a way to exercise. Everyone should be looking after their physical and mental health. Tebbey says people need to follow their state government’s guidelines on exercise, but make the most of their opportunities. “My wife and I have turned part of our garage into a home gym, so we’ve got the yoga mats and the various bits and pieces down there.”
  • Get help if you need it. You don’t have to wait till the coronavirus pandemic is over before you access counselling. Relationships Australia and other services are still operating, “it’s just that they’ll provide the service over the phone or over a webcam rather than at a centre”.

Tebbey says patience and understanding are important, and the more people communicate with each other, the better. But that’s not always enough.

“We shouldn’t tell people the only option is to ride it out.”

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It’s okay to feel this way, but it’s also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus – How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

Feature Image: Getty

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