“I Need Husband-Distancing”: Experience of Marital Conflict during the COVID-19 Emergency in South Korea
Keywords:COVID-19, locked-down families, intimate partner violence, marital conflict, mental health
The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of marital conflict during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emergency in South Korea by adapting the vulnerability-stress-adaptation model (VSA; Karney and Bradbury 1995). The public emergency of COVID-19 and social distancing policies caused emotional distress, social isolation, lack of support, and economic crisis in families, increasing the risk of marital conflict. Eleven women who reported experiencing severe marital conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic were interviewed by telephone. The interview data were analyzed through directed content analysis. The women experienced 1) maladaptation to sudden life changes, 2) family role confusion, 3) economic crisis, and 4) invasion of personal space. These adverse experiences, along with the influence of their spouses’ personality traits, led to reduced physical and psychological interaction between the partners and severance of their relationship. Attention must be paid to the mental health and well-being of families to prevent their dissolution. There is an urgent need for community-based psychological intervention and support for families who are house-bound for long periods. Additionally, government policies are necessary to lighten or share the childcare burden on families during the crisis, so women are not compelled to take career breaks.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Sihyun Park, Yejung Ko
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