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Is the pandemic hurting marriages?

A new study from the American Family Survey shows while many couples bonded together during this difficult time, it's pushed others to split.

When the coronavirus pandemic first began in the United States, many experts anticipated a baby boom. We’ve now learned that hasn’t been the case. 

Dr. Susan Albers of the Cleveland Clinic says it could be, in part, because too much quality time isn’t always a good thing.

“The pandemic has caused a lot of stress on relationships,” says Dr. Albers. “The financial strain, being home together 24/7 and the general stress and anxiety of the world, this has been a tough time for couples.”

RELATED: How to handle loneliness and get what you need from relationships while living through a pandemic, with Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Adam Borland

The American Family Survey (AFS) just released their study which is one of the first looks into family dynamics since the pandemic began, and unsurprisingly, the pandemic has increased stress and tension in a lot of relationships. 

Eight percent of the 3,000 study participants said the pandemic made them more likely to break up or get a divorce.

“If your relationship was already strained or rocky, this pandemic often pushed people towards really thinking about what was important in their relationship and making some tough decisions,” says Dr. Albers.

The flip side of that coin is that a lot of couples have found this time has brought them closer together and bonded over their common struggles. AFS found that 47% of respondents said this crisis has strengthened their relationship commitments. 

Either way, Dr. Albers says this situation caused by Covid-19 has affected every relationship, and the repercussions may not all be seen for a while.

RELATED: Divorce during a pandemic: Attorneys say requests for marriage break-ups on the rise

“The pandemic has had lasting effects on relationships and will for many, many years. It changed every dynamic from the amount of time we spent together to how we communicate and how we deal with things. The resiliency that couples experience in a relationship have been put to the test," Dr. Albers said. 

Her advice is to work at it. She suggests finding new hobbies to do together and making sure to communicate with one another. Also, as hard as it can be, find some time apart.

“We need some alone time from our spouse to recharge our batteries,” says Albers. “Help them carve out that time. Encourage them to spend some time on their own and then you can rejoin and regroup later.”

The study also identified that appreciating each other was the number one factor in determining whether a couple would be pushed away or brought together during this time. 

“So my number one tip is, today, to your significant others or spouse, tell them something you appreciate about them,” says Albers.

Editor's note: the video in the player below is from a story published on May 11, 2020.

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