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Covid Takes High Toll On Marriage: Lawyers Report Surge In Couples Looking To Divorce After Lockdown

By NEIL HARTNELL and

TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

PROMINENT attorneys yesterday revealed “a tremendous increase” in divorce cases coming before them following the end of the first COVID-19 nationwide lockdown.

Branville McCartney, the Halsbury Chambers principal, branded the spike in divorce matters as “unfortunate” even though such cases were usually not a major fee earner for the Bahamian legal profession.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the lockdown, but I must say that divorces have been up, although that’s not a big legal-type fee unless it’s contested and the persons are people of means,” he told The Tribune.

“We have seen that aspect, divorces, have unfortunately increased in The Bahamas. For many, many years the divorce rate was one out of every two marriages ended in divorce, but from the first lockdown we saw a tremendous increase in divorce matters.”

Wayne Munroe, QC, confirmed he had seen similar trends to Mr McCartney, adding: “A lot of people have called asking. I’ve seen a lot of people calling and asking about divorce.

“The main thing is what are the justifications for divorce? We’re generally seeing people come up with grounds that are mental cruelty, getting into rows with their spouse. It’s something else, but it is foreseeable.

“I tell people that one of the quickest ways to get divorced is to spend too much time with your spouse. The little things that annoy you, you cannot get a break from it. It’s a phenomenon you’re going to see a lot more.”

The first COVID-19 lockdown, and its stay-at-home restrictions, will likely have further increased the pressures on already-troubled marriages and relationships as the two sides will have been unable to get a break from each other.

A well-known religious leader has urged troubled married couples to make peace with the past and seek video counselling to prevent separation.

Rev Angela Palacious, a priest in the Anglican Diocese, said couples who find themselves in trouble during the lockdowns, should use the time for self-reflection.

This as some lawyers have told The Tribune that divorce cases are on the rise amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“So I would say that it is a good time to write a letter to yourself and look at what the areas are that makes it a challenge to live with you,” Rev Palacious said. “People should do some kind of self-examination, to say what are the complaints that they have heard over the years that they really did not pay attention to and probably now highlighted in this time together.

“To do some kind of self-reflection is helpful. This is also a time to apologise and ask forgiveness and offer forgiveness. In terms of one’s relationship, you have to do the same kind of self-examination. So rather than the other person having to accuse you, you should begin to look at yourself and let this be a time for self-development, growth and change. Ask yourself, ‘where can I be a better friend or spouse’ and do that kind of honest self-evaluation. I think that’s a good place to start because we have more time.”

Rev Palacious said she, too has heard about an increase of failed marriages, a lot of marriages since the COVID-19 pandemic but, she says at the same time, some couples are rediscovering their love while being locked down together.

“Let’s begin with making peace with the past,” she continued. “I’ve been hearing about marriage separations and I’ve also been hearing about those who rediscovered the joy of being married and friendship because they finally had time for one another. So it can go both ways depending on the foundation, I guess. If they have any kind of spiritual foundation it’s even better. I read something that said, ‘If people read their Bibles four times a week, there would be considerable change in terms of divorce and addiction’.

“It’s like you begin to nurture yourself spiritually and you begin to become more accountable. So that kind of spiritual discipline would be helpful. In terms of anger management and conflict resolution, this is a good time for people to go online and look at some of the articles there are on managing your own temper and dealing with conflict and listening skills and also to learn how to be a better communicator.”

Rev Palacious, who is also a counselor, said these times also serve as a good opportunity for couples to do the things that they enjoy together like a Motown night, a Classical music night or a Jazz night.

“They should begin to explore new things,” she said. “Look for movies that the two of them would enjoy watching together and have a date night every three nights. They can cook together and plan meals together. The challenge is to what degree do they believe they can change and not just change the other person. And, to what degree can we find a blessing in the midst of all of this.

“What is the blessing? We have more time, but we have less money, however it may remind you of the beginning of your relationship when you were younger and you didn’t have as much money. And, how to look at the things that you did then that were enjoyable. I think couples should make an effort not to get on each other’s nerves.”

Rev Palacious advised couples to decide what they want to have in a relationship when the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are over. And, she said they should be willing to invest in the relationship, get counseling on the phone and receive the help they need.

Comments

mandela 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Dear Mr. COVID-19, you just won't stop, now you are presumably the cause of an increase in divorces, one thing that's certain you are causing the truth to come to light and make everyone in any and all circumstances take note of themselves, their lives, their surroundings, their futures, be it economical, love, hate, spiritual, financial, in leadership, and so on and on. Yes, Mr. COVID-19, you are one bad mother-f$#%&r

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stillwaters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Man, I can just imagine the surprise when some of these married people showed up on their sweetheart's doorstep......bags in hand......

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tribanon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

.....thereby triggering even more divorces in a snow balling process, one that naturally feeds on itself.

And just wait until we see the incredible surge in births within the next nine months arising from these yo-yo lockdowns. Yes indeed, the family law practice area of most law firms will be making much hay while the sun shines. New Providence is destined to be more crowded than ever, as the few who still can flee the country do so. Not a pretty picture!

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FrustratedBusinessman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I will go to my grave with the belief that the Bahamas has one of the worst cultural dispositions towards the institution of marriage, and family life in general, for our region. Maybe it is more of what I see in my personal life, but fornication, adultery, divorce are all easily accepted and commonplace for a supposedly "Christian" society.

Great nations are built off the backs of the family unit, and they fall when the family unit is destroyed. The chaos happening in the United States right now is blatant proof of that.

Bad news for the lawyers though : if people are broke, you won't be able to collect your legal fees.

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joeblow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

True, but unfortunately Christian values are discretionary. They can be taught, but it is up to the individual to choose to apply them. The high esteem in which Bahamians were held was when we applied them. Our low estate is because of their abandonment!

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FrustratedBusinessman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Fair enough. It always bugs me to hear someone refer to us a "Christian" nation though when nobody really seems to believe in Christian values. Wasn't it six months back or so that McAlpine and one of the Anglican priests came out in support of the legalization of same sex marriage and abortion? The Bahamas is about as Christian as the Easter Bunny.

Agreed 100%, the cultural rot infecting Bahamian society is just as nefarious as the economic issues that we are currently facing.

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jujutreeclub 3 months, 2 weeks ago

We have seen that aspect, divorces, have unfortunately increased in The Bahamas. For many, many years the divorce rate was one out of every two marriages ended in divorce, but from the first lockdown we saw a tremendous increase in divorce matters.”. This is the most Jokiest statement have ever see. So I guess the increase now moves it from 50% prior to 100% during. I don't know where Bran is getting his statistics from, but based on this every married couple has applied for divorce in the Bahamas. What a joke Bran. I guess my wife applied for divorce and I don't know anything about it.

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Clamshell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Have you asked her? ... 🤣🤣🤣

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bogart 3 months, 2 weeks ago

These high profile society leaders.....seems to be outta touch with reality of nation whichinin dey just seems referring to select elite segment.

The nation jus seems to made up wid ....plenty ummarried family fella an girl shack up wid lil chillren, .....plenty unmarried young girls with child living with mammy an other sisters an brothers in house, ....young girl with child living with grammy on small pension, lil chillrens of parent who deported living with grand parent or family, ....society has changed ages ago....AND today ...these young real life married an majority unmarried situations highly likely to ever know what is MOTOWN night, ....Classical music night,,.... or Jazz night....ages an decades later now music changed an people able to twerkin to........hahahahaha.

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DWW 3 months, 2 weeks ago

so the music made them do it?

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DominiqueForbes 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I am overwhelmed with sadness as a result of reading this article. Why did it have to take a pandemic in order to expose the fall of marriages in our land?

And quite frankly, I am not moved by ANY of the WEAK suggestions that have been put forth! They all appear to be meaningless?

Was this article set to promote marriage counseling dollars or to let the country know where to go should married couples decide to separate?

As a young married woman, I am appalled by the example that has been set by words today

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FrustratedBusinessman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The disregard for a stable family life in the Bahamas is nothing new. This has been a generational problem for quite some time.

I personally grew up in a broken home, and know many more men that did as well. I had to make a willing choice to be better than those that came before me, which lets be real, is a very difficult thing for most coming from broken homes.

I will disclose that I am a Roman Catholic, and that there is no such thing as divorce. As the Bible says "two flesh become one", and that is irreversible. However, I also recognize that the Bahamas is no longer a Christian nation and that the world in general is trending in the opposite direction. When you see alleged "pastors" and "priests" arguing for same sex marriage or abortion, you realize how perverted and twisted modern day Christianity in general has become.

How many young men or women do you think are virgins past 18 in today's society? The Lord's words ring truer than ever : "One cannot serve God and mammon" (I loosely apply mammon to mean the world in general, not just money). It takes much self determination and a strong head to be faithful to the Lord in today's world. The best thing that we can ever do is raise our children the right way, and pray that they stick to the true path and live a holy life.

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Chucky 3 months, 2 weeks ago

All world trending away from religion is a world showing progress.

Religion is dogma.

And admitting to being catholic is the biggest embarrassment of all.

It the religion of child sexual abuse. All hidden by the Pope whenever possible

Anyone who is a part of that is if nothing else guild of pedophilia by complacency if not by actual participation.

You people who carry on the tradition disgust me to no end.

If there is a hell, then there is a place in in for all Catholics.

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FrustratedBusinessman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I have no embarrassment when it comes to admitting my faith, God Himself is the only reason that I am alive today.

I agree that any sexual perversion needs to be swiftly called out and dealt with (God Himself will deal with them as well), but to classify an entire faith as being a "religion of child sexual abuse" is wrong. Do you actually know any Roman Catholics in your life? As Epstein logs reveal, there are plenty wackjobs out there in the world, it is not something exclusive to the Church. I encourage you to attend a Mass one day, even if you don't believe. Maybe you will realize that not every Catholic is as you say.

I will keep you in my prayers, God loves you no matter what.

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joeblow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

@ Chucky... many fallacies in your reasoning. Evil manifests only where it finds a willing participant within or without religions. A man is not more virtuous because he is an atheist and less virtuous because he is not. A mans virtues are determined by his choices and nothing else!

Should education be banned in this country because of the obvious failures that the system seems to produce or do we have a personal responsibility to enact what we are taught? Religion or faith in God is not the problem, not choosing to apply its principles is. Both individuals and institutions can make those choices, but this brings us back to personal responsibility for our actions-- good or bad!

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DominiqueForbes 3 months, 2 weeks ago

A great resource to help rebuild marriages: http://www.christianity.com/devotiona...">http://www.christianity.com/devotiona...

Where is the counsel that communicates that marriage is binding? Where is God, the creator of said institution within this article?

I am floored!

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joeblow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

... without having clicked on the link, I would imagine the most fundamental building block of a marriage is the character of the individuals who undertake it. If a person is not loyal, trustworthy, unselfish and willing to work toward the common good of the relationship how can it succeed? In this country too many dysfunctional people enter relationships playing house without understanding exactly what is required of them. The natural consequence of such thinking is what this article highlights!

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It never ceases to amaze me that we are constantly reinventing the wheel and analyzing everything as if they were situations or problems unique only to the Bahamas.

The entire world is experiencing a 30 to 40% increase in divorces due to extenuating circumstances related to the Covid19 pandemic.

https://covid19.tabipacademy.com/2020...">https://covid19.tabipacademy.com/2020...

This is a tragedy for many and a blessing for some as it is much better to move on with ones life and find true love and happiness than to live unhappy, unfulfilled, and die in misery!

We all agree it's best to find an occupation that makes one happy even if less prestigious, but we do everything in world to "councel" people to stay together regardless of how unhappy and miserable they are just because they made a mistake or just didn't know their spouse had major flaws which were kept well hidden prior to marriage.

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DWW 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I do not agree with choosing an occupation that pays less but makes you happy. money cannot buy happiness but it can make the misery a bit more comfortable no?

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

@DWW.....I totally agree with you, apologies if I wasn't clear. The prestige of an occupation doesn't necessarily equate to higher income. A surprising number of blue collar occupations pays more than hi prestige occupations.

A wealthy good friend once said to me "money may not be the best or most important thing in the world, but it sure beats what's second!"

My point was, many people wake up one day and literally find themselves living with individuals they didn't marry, because the spouse knowing their own flaws hid their true selves for as long as possible to "catch" them.

Not only is this all too common, but also now considered an act of criminal deception, and grounds for divorce.

Of course no so called "marriage councilor" will ever admit to this! They tell people to forgive the guilty party and banish them to a life of misery, heartache, and abuse.

If marriage is "Holy" and based on love, and trust, and GOD is a GOD of truth how could "christian councilors" expect someone to uphold vows that the other party deceived them into making based on who they presented themselves to be?

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FrustratedBusinessman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In my opinion, way too many people rush into marriage when they are young and still developing. Wasn't there a study done that shows the human brain doesn't finish developing until the age of 25?

People need to take the time to find themselves before they rush into it, and know that person for several years before making that life long commitment.

Agreed with the occupational point as well. For many people it is all about a title, not about how much money they can make. Financial stability is another thing that our young people should pursue before getting married as well. Proverbs 24:27.

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