The public health advice—and in some countries, command—to stay at home during the Coronavirus epidemic is forcing many people to spend the kind of continuous time with spouses and children which normally only happens on family holidays, though without the trips out. This is shining a light, and putting unaccustomed strain, on our household arrangements.
The number of people filing for divorce spikes after Christmas and after the summer holidays, and it wouldn’t be surprising if we see a similar spike when the lockdown is lifted. In the meantime, people who might have been planning to leave their spouses (or throw them out into the street) have had to put their plans on hold. There is nowhere for newly separated spouses to go.
The reaction of commentators hostile to the traditional family has been interesting to see. In this Guardian article the writer notes that the lockdown has forced people into a closer approximation of traditional family values, not least because opportunities for extra-marital affairs have dried up, apparently to her chagrin. Over at Soros-funded Open Democracy, a writer with an alarmingly tenuous connection with reality thinks that this is the moment to “abolish the family”, whatever that means, though she acknowledges that the actual effect of the lockdown has been to give it greater importance than ever.