“Covid-19 is the best thing that’s ever happened to my marriage. My husband can’t see his girlfriend, because he’s scared of getting sick.”
You might be surprised how many emails along those lines I’ve received since we collectively learned the word coronavirus. (And yes, it goes the other way too, with wives who have been unfaithful.)
It’s likely that many spouses who have been carrying on an extramarital affair have found it more of a challenge, and more of a risk, to see their affair partner. Lockdowns and quarantines may stand in the way. On top of that, there is simply the general, pervasive fear of catching covid, which has made many people rethink a lot of their activities.
But for those betrayed spouses who may feel there is some respite here, some victory, I can’t say that I agree. In fact, it’s quite possible that once restrictions ease, and especially once a vaccine becomes widely available, they will see a rebound effect where the unfaithful spouse returns to their affair partner with renewed zeal.
I know many people are trying extra hard during this time to improve not just their personal health, but the health of their marriage. Many have had great success in doing so. That’s wonderful, and I truly hope that continues.
Yet I’ve heard from even more people who say that the stress of lockdown or quarantine, the anxiety of financial troubles and job loss, and the worries surrounding how their kids or elderly parents are doing, have all chipped away at their marriage. They and their spouse are having more arguments and less sex.
And as for those affair situations, especially those that were previously in the open, many of them have transitioned into texting affairs where the unfaithful spouse is still in contact with his or her affair partner, but largely via texting and social media. Even though such a spouse may be sitting beside you, he or she is still thinking of someone else, someplace else. Surely there’s no victory in that.
There are also many situations where—whether due to boredom, a need for escape, or a fledgling attraction to another person—a spouse strikes up a new virtual affair. Like the situation just mentioned, these play out via texting or social media. They may involve a co-worker who a spouse misses seeing in the office, or a complete stranger they met online. Either way, the fantasy of that virtual affair is certainly more exciting that the reality of covid and a stressed-out marriage.
If any of this resonates with you, I urge you, in the strongest way, to use this time wisely. Be proactive and do everything you can to strengthen your marriage’s immunity to infidelity. That may mean improving the interactions and intimacy between you, or taking steps to overcome an affair, whether it’s past, current or pending.
Because if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that the covid crisis will pass. It may take a long time, and it may not be a smooth road, but the worst of it will pass. And when it does, the last thing you want is for a spouse, whose affection or fidelity toward you is lukewarm at best, to take that vaccine—and then take off.
So take care of yourself. But take care of your marriage, too. Use this time to repair the specific relationship problems you see, or that you anticipate—an affair, an inappropriate friendship, apathy, arguing, a spouse’s midlife crisis, whatever. Good luck and good health to you.
– Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B., International Relationship Author-Expert & Creator of the “Fair, but Aware” approach. Now available online.