COVID-19: A Cause for Broken Marriages?

Helen Man

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019, more than 188 countries around the world have been ravaged by it, resulting in 84 million confirmed cases and 18.3 million deaths (Note 1). This pandemic has hit the global economy severely. Cities and countries have been closed down in panics. Even in the U.S., many Chinese families have been affected: domestic violence, depression, and even suicide. It has destroyed many seemingly stable marriages.

In 2010, 39% of Americans considered traditional marriages “outdated.” In 2008, 41% of children born out of wedlock, and 25% of children living with single parents. Moreover, about 21% of these single-parent children have to live with at least two of their mothers’ sexual partners before they reach the age of 15. (Note 2)

According to United Nations statistics, the highest divorce rate comes from the United States. Half of the first marriages in the United States end in divorce, which is similar to the situation in Canada. The United Kingdom ranks second. However the divorce rate in many Asian countries has also increased in recent years, and it is close to the United States, Britain, and Europe. For example, South Korea’s divorce rate has tripled over the previous ten years, ranking behind the United States and the United Kingdom, making it the third-highest divorce country in the world (Note 3).

After the outbreak, the divorce rate in the United States has risen sharply. In April 2020, the online legal company (Legal Templates) pointed out that the number of divorce cases in 2020 increased by 34% compared with last year: The divorce rate for marriages under 5 months was 20% which was a double from the year before; but under 5 years, the rate was 58% which was a 16% increase. (Note 4)

Lately, the economy in China has greatly improved and many civilians have become money-oriented and don’t respect marriages as before. Therefore, the divorce rate has rapidly increased to 12.8% from year 2012 to year 2013. According to the Department of Civil Affairs of China, the number of divorces exceeded 4 million for 4 consecutive years in 2020. Divorce rate has already been rising for 16 consecutive years (Note 5). The pandemic has pushed divorces to the peak! In the first half of 2020, some big cities (such as Shanghai, Xi’an, Shenzhen, etc.) actually have queues for divorce (Note 6)! Extramarital affairs are the main cause of the continuous increase in divorce. Besides dealing with financial problems, Chinese families have been experiencing fear of death, leading to various negative reactions and endless quarrels at home.

Despite this pandemic crisis, the Christ-centered families have proven to stand firm through trials. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about marriage:

1. Marriage is holy and established by God.

In the beginning, God created the world and a couple (Adam and Eve). God has made Eve by using one of Adam’s ribs and that’s why Adam said, “This is now one of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Therefore, marriage is holy and shouldn’t be profaned.

2. Marriage is not only the union of one man and one woman, but also a lifetime commitment.

The Bible says: “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15)

It’s very obvious about what God wants in marriage from the way He created only one wife for Adam, neither another man nor an extra woman. Besides, marriage is a lifetime commitment. Jesus said, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Happy Marriages Start from the Beginning:

1. Money, appearance, degree, enjoyment, etc. should not be the criteria for looking for a spouse. Otherwise, you will definitely regret it. Pay attention to one’s character, temperament, faith, and health instead.

2. Casual premarital sex might be a sign of future infidelity. If someone marries you for your beauty or money, he might leave you behind for someone else one day.

3. Be keen with our observation. Never overestimate the power of your love by trying to change each other through love. If your partner has bad habits, such as drugs, gambling, drunkenness, pornography; or bad character, such as being vicious, unscrupulous, cruel, cruel, aggressive, etc., you must not marry him.

4. Introduce each other to your parents, and the elders in church, so you can listen to their opinions before jumping into a deeper relationship.

5. As Christians we can ask God to help us make the right choice. The Bible teaches us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

6. Christians must follow the teachings of the Bible: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Also look for spiritual maturity. You will find your marriage being blessed by God.

Post-Marriage Care:

1. Put God first, then your spouse, children, and parents. The Bible says: “ Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” (Psalms 33:12) Some couples have problems when one spouse pays too much attention to the children and ignores the other spouse.

2. Watch out for extramarital affairs! The Bible says: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4) Keeping the Word of God in our hearts can rescue us from temptations.

3. Learn to forgive your spouse by God’s Grace, especially when he or she shows remorse. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

4. Love needs to be revealed. God never hides His great love from us. He clearly displays His great love through all the things He has created, the proclamations of the prophets of the ages, the birth of the Son of God (Jesus Christ), and the sacrifice of His life for our redemption. By the same token, love should be revealed in a good marriage.

You need to express your love more often by praising your spouse, especially in front of your children, relatives and friends. Say “Thank you”, “You are so nice”, “I love you” and other words of gratitude and praise and always think of the positive side of the other person. Heartfelt praises and practical care can nourish love. In addition, we must love each other’s parents and relatives as ourselves. Doesn’t the Bible teach us to “love our neighbor as ourselves”? The more you cherish them, the more your spouse will love you. Your children will also follow your good example of kindness and love you in return.

5. Arguing is not a good means of communication. To communicate with your spouse, you must “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1: 19) Listen carefully to your spouse, and consider that the other person is stronger than yourself. Speak wisely by paying attention to the right setting, the right attitude, and the right tone. If there is nothing good to say, please hold your tongue. Don’t judge, don’t be harsh, and don’t account for the old faults.

6. In order to cultivate your marriage, you need to continue to fall in love with your spouse. Make time to “date” your spouse, even for a short coffee break. To cultivate common interests, take the initiative to participate in your spouse’s favorite activities. In addition, read more to expand your mind. Keep yourself updated.

7. Most importantly, bring your spouse to Christ if he or she is not a believer. As the two of you love each other as oneself, you may grow together in Christ, being supportive and kind to each other. Then your marriage would be firmly rooted on a solid foundation which enables you to get through the storms of life.

(Notes 1-6 from various websites)

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