How to Help Marriages Survive COVID-19

Melody Copenny

This pandemic hasn’t been easy to navigate. It doesn’t tiptoe safely around us. The unexpected global health crisis has created economic hardships, threatening people’s lives and breaking over our daily routines. 

As America battles its way through the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, new realities are emerging for millions of couples. Social distancing and extra precautions continue across the country, seeking to flatten the spread of the virus and reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19. 

Our country has changed, and for the moment, no one knows what the future holds. 

Worries about face masks, hand sanitizer, Lysol, and toilet paper, along with the constant reminders to social distance, have replaced the whimsical thoughts we all once had. Proms, graduations, weddings and sporting events are gone. Instead, we struggle with disruption and deep stress. 

These realities are challenging worldwide, affecting friendships and families. Marriages, especially, are expected to take a hit. A surge in divorce rates is anticipated in the wake of COVID-19 quarantines

“The Biggest Mistake of My Life”

Turmoil can happen in a marriage whether there’s a pandemic or not. 

Dave and Ann Wilson know this turmoil. They felt confident their marriage would be beautiful — even idyllic. Two weeks before they walked down the aisle, the couple attended a Weekend to Remember conference, hosted by FamilyLife, a Cru ministry that brings help and hope to marriages and families. 

They wondered why other couples were furiously taking notes during the conference. The Wilsons believed marriage would be easy. They thought they didn’t need help to know how to love each other and build a family together. 

On their wedding night, the Wilsons prayed that God wouldn’t give them a good marriage. Instead, they wanted a great marriage that impacted the world for His kingdom.

Dave and Ann wouldn’t realize how naive they'd been at the WTR conference until a heated argument brought their union to a point of implosion. Ann told her husband, “Marrying you was the biggest mistake of my life!”

Dave’s response left their marriage on the brink of failure. 

“You're right,” he said. “What were we thinking?”

Ann felt she’d married the wrong person. To her, letting go of her marriage so she could find the right person would be better. Dave agreed.

Another fight soon followed, and Dave sought solace by reading his Bible. Ann found him in their den and asked what he was doing.

“I'm sitting here reading Paul's words, ‘To live is Christ and to die is gain.’ And I just told God I would rather be dead than to be married to you.” 

That was their lowest point, Ann said. They were desperate for help.

In the midst of their breakdown, they remembered one resource: FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember conference manual. They walked through the content, applying God’s Word to their marriage.  

“It saved us,” Ann said. “It gave us hope.”

God’s truth led the couple from the brink of divorce to healing and reconciliation.

What Couples Can Do to Save Their Marriages During a Pandemic

FamilyLife equips couples to understand the purpose of marriage, to learn how to identify threats to oneness in their relationship, to resolve conflicts in a healthy way, and to talk about sex and intimacy comfortably.  As FamilyLife works to help couples in this current reality, here are four steps you can take to protect your marriage now:

  1. Avoid making decisions you might regret. During crises, it should be a rule in any relationship to not make any major decisions. You could easily make a long-term decision you wish you could undo.

  2. Talk about the hard issues in your marriage, but don't stop there. Come up with a plan. Answer the question, “Now what?” For example, if spending is the cause of your fighting, plan to solve that problem.

  3. Consider the relationship: its strengths and its weaknesses. Often, a person’s greatest weakness is also their greatest strength. Make a list of your spouse’s traits that drive you crazy. Now consider how those traits are also strengths you love.

  4. Evaluate your expectations. Your spouse is human — frail, imperfect, but still made in God’s image. He or she has God-given gifts and qualities, and there’s a reason God put you together. Have you considered that what you want from your mate may be out of line with who God made them to be?

See the sidebar for more ways to build your marriage relationships. 

Going Vertical

Years later, the Wilsons’ marriage hit another wall when they went through a significant transition. 

The family moved to Michigan for Dave to start a job as a chaplain for the Detroit Lions. During this challenging time, God gave them a dream to start a church.

But after the move, the new ministry work and the birth of two children, the struggles they had faced resurfaced. 

As they celebrated their 10th anniversary, Ann told Dave, “I've lost all my feelings for you. I don't have anything left. And I don’t know where to go from here.”. 

Her husband’s response amazed her. 

“God reminded me that the only way you're going to find life is not here in your marriage — not from Ann [and] Ann not from me — it’s to go vertical from [Jesus] Christ,” Dave said.  “We ended up repenting of trying to find life here [in each other].”

Help for Personal Hurts

God’s restoration of their marriage led the Wilsons to share their wisdom and experiences with other couples needing help in their relationships and parenting. 

They are the hosts of FamilyLife Today, a daily, 30-minute nationally syndicated radio program that features interviews with authors, pastors and many others on topics touching on marriage and family.

“In many ways, FamilyLife Today — the radio, podcast, audio — is an answer to our wedding night prayer,” Dave said. They never dreamed that prayer would become this reality. 

“God took us through all these valleys and has done a miracle in and through us,” Dave said. 


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