There’s been a lot of discussion about how COVID-19 has affected workplaces, healthcare, schools, and other high-profile parts of life. But one of the most significant impacts of the pandemic doesn’t receive a lot of public discussion. What is it? Marriage. Spending more time in close quarters added to the number of unknowns, can lead to added struggles during this a time already wrought with stress. I recently read an article about how people are yearning more than ever for some kind of fond memory, and contacting old flames is at an all-time high.

Keeping a marriage healthy is more difficult than most people realize when they head to the altar. It’s tough under normal circumstances, when both parties are dealing with the stresses of normal life and their own needs. When working from home and social distancing put couples under the same roof 24/7, with no clear end in sight, problems within the relationship become magnified. What are normally little annoyances become major irritations, and significant problems become overwhelming.

Pastors and church leaders are often on the front lines of the battle to save marriages. When couples encounter the inevitable problems or being to contemplate divorce, they’ll often confide in a trusted pastor, who can give them the guidance they need.

But as we think about COVID-19 and marriage, it may make sense for you to take a more proactive approach. Could we make a bold request? Instead of waiting for marriages to become so troubled that the couple reaches out to you, would you consider using some of your time with your congregation to talk about the realities of marriage? Perhaps you’d consider devoting a sermon or two to what it takes to sustain a healthy marriage in good times and bad?  Mention the kinds of things that can derail a marriage — think of how often a member believes they’re the only one experiencing a particular issue that you know is widespread. It is so unbelievably sad when couples come to us, and when we ask if they have shared their struggles with their life group or Bible study, we are met with stunned looks and gasps… “No. No one would understand.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’d like to partner with us to do an online marriage course, talk with your marriage mentors, or even meet with couples in distress, of course we’re here for you. We see the writing on the wall and know the fall out from these long months of desperation, and we really want to get ahead of this as much as we can.

Michael Spencer is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors. He has combined ministry with counseling for families, couples, and individuals of all ages.