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In-Depth: Local couple has advice after studies show COVID-19 marital stress

Local couple has advice, studies show COVID marital stress
Posted at 9:56 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 00:42:35-04

CLEVELAND — Mattie and Jick Hayes of Cleveland will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary on June 11 and the duo is urging other Northeast Ohio couples to practice patience and understand during the ongoing pandemic.

The couple continues to run a successful home floral shop and said they understand the added marital stress being created by continued pandemic isolation, especially with more couples working from home and seeing their spouses more often.

Mattie Hayes said over the years, being understanding and a good listener has gotten the couple through some ups and downs.

"I'm head-over-heels in love with this guy," Hayes said. “If he’s doing all the talking, you just sit back and relax and say yes, yes, you’re right.”

“As long as he thinks he’s the boss, then I have no problem, and he has no problem. He can be a card sometimes, but you just have to love that person more, and love him back to normal."

A report by Bowling Green University Sociology Professor Wendy Manning, which surveyed more than 800 people in five states, indicated about one-third of couples reported increased conflict during the pandemic due to four key subjects.

“We looked at depressive symptoms, those increased, we saw anxiety increase," Manning said.

“Housework, parenting, and money were the top three, we asked questions about social distancing, and arguments about that ranked number four.”

“About a third of the couples experienced an increase in conflict, about 40% stayed the same and about 25% had lower levels of conflict.”

“Meanwhile, Marriages were down by about 20% and divorces were down by closer to 15%."

Brigham Young's latest American Family Survey, outlined by the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee, indicated 45% of the 3,000 surveyed said the pandemic introduced new stress factors, while at the same time 58% said the pandemic had them appreciating their partners even more

Delores Gray, with Cleveland's Brickhouse Wellness Women's Empowerment Group, said communication and a change in scenery are crucial in relieving pandemic-related marital stress.

“The pandemic has all of us upside-down, inside-out,” Gray said "Have fun and talk things out, try to get outside and do an activity together.”

“All of us all also need our space from time to time."

Meanwhile, Jick Hayes is urging other couples to try and maintain a sense of humor to help them through the remainder of the pandemic.

“Always put the other one up on a pedestal, where they belong," Hayes said.

“You have to have a sense of humor, just like when we were kids on the playground, just like when we were in kindergarten, we laughed, but we didn’t know what we were laughing about.”