By Jessica Easthope
Couples have been forced to quarantine together for months. At first it was expected it might cause a baby boom, but now couples are experiencing the flip side: a spike in divorces.
“Because they are together in the same place for an extended period of time, a lot of issues have come to the surface and have caused a strain into the married life,” said Christian Rada, the Director of Marriage, Family Life and Respect Life Education for the Brooklyn Diocese.
Couples in the Brooklyn Diocese who want to work on their troubled marriages come to Christian. He says he usually hears from eight couples a year, in the first six months of 2020, he had already worked with 15. He says the common thread connecting all of them is lack of communication.
“Because they’re not able to talk to each other, other issues come about. So the root, I believe, from the calls I’ve received is there’s a great lack of communication,” he said.
Though there has been an increase in internet searches for divorce, there’s no hard date suggesting a surge is ahead. That could be due to court closures.
“People have to secure the civil divorce before they apply to us, so we won’t see the effects immediately. Maybe by the end of the year or next year,” explained Father Francis Asagba, the Judicial Vicar for the Office of the Tribunal for the Brooklyn Diocese.
Fr. Francis deals with all of the annulment petitions that come into the office. During the pandemic, there have been four. Fr. Francis says that number isn’t alarming, but now is the time for the church to take advantage of possible court delays and help couples in need.
“We have programs to sustain them so there are resources out there, but the Church can always do more. The parishes can maybe do more to offer formation programs for those already married,” said Fr. Francis.
Christian says the good news for Catholic couples who are considering a divorce is that faith can be part of the solution.
“There’s also sometimes a lack of a spiritual life and I ask them, ‘Do you pray together? Do you pray for each other? And most of the time it’s ‘We don’t pray together,’ so that’s another thing that I revisit with couples I talk to,” he explained.
In the coming months the Brooklyn Diocese will be starting a Divorce Bereavement Ministry to help people cope with the loss of a marriage.