QF entity discusses impact of pandemic on relationships, marriages, and families
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many areas of our lives, including the institution of marriage – reshaping relationships, customs, traditions, and cultures.
During a panel discussion, titled Marriage in the time of COVID-19 – held as part of an international conference by Doha International Family Institute, a member of Qatar Foundation – experts came together in the digital sphere to discuss marriage in today’s world.
An indirect positive impact on the lives of married couples in the time of COVID-19 has been strengthening the relationship between spouses
Haela Almikrish, Executive Deputy to the Secretary General, at the Family Affairs Council in Saudi Arabia, spoke about how – in some cases – relationships have been strengthened.
“An indirect positive impact on the lives of married couples in the time of COVID-19 has been strengthening the relationship between spouses, as they have had to spend more time together due to lockdown, and shared some of the housework tasks.”
It has also been a time of reflection, with marriage plans and engagements increasing significantly, she explained.
“Community members became more aware of the importance and value of having a family, also spending a lot of time alone in the house, the limited mobility and inability to travel encouraged many individuals to think about marriage.”
Speaking about how Saudi Arabia supported families during the pandemic, she said that the government allocated a community fund and launched initiatives spanning a variety of sections, including social, economic, education, and health.
“Among these are initiatives that support family cohesion, as home quarantine may increase psychological pressure on families,” she said. “A hotline of communication was launched to respond and provide urgent and immediate consultations in an easy way to serve all regions of the country.”
In lockdown, people were unable to attend religious gatherings, a place where they would usually discuss family issues, resulting in a number of social and economic issues within Kenyan families
Another panelist, Lissel Mogaka, Director of Family Promotion, Protection and Social Welfare Division in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection State Department for Social Protection, in Kenya, also spoke about the positive and negative impact of COVID-19 on relationships and families.
“Some people were affected psychologically, as things weren’t going normally, and people suffered incidents of social violence, some suicides resulting from psychological trauma.
“On the positive side, families came together to make joint decisions and interact more with each other,” he said.
Mogaka also explained that in lockdown, people were unable to attend religious gatherings, a place where they would usually discuss family issues, and children did not go to school, resulting in a number of social and economic issues within Kenyan families.
Speaking about some of the strategies and coping mechanisms that have been taken to preserve family cohesion, he said: “In Kenya, we have legal frameworks that protect the family, and we have legislation that clearly clarifies the best model for families and government measures to support families and society in general.”
Ibrahim Al-Ansari, an events and wedding planning entrepreneur in Qatar, shed light on how the pandemic changed the traditional setup for wedding celebrations.
I believe that responsibility does not fall on the shoulders of young people alone, but society should also play an active role in this matter through changing the customs and behaviors which threaten the stability of marriage.
Al-Ansari believes that if life returns to normal after the pandemic, opinions in society may differ between those who wish to continue organizing simple family parties to those who prefer more lavish weddings.
“After the pandemic, some individuals may return to hosting extravagant weddings, which we have become accustomed to in Qatar – where the number of invitees may exceed more than a thousand people. But from my point of view, as a designer, simplicity always prevails.
“My advice to young people who are planning on getting married is not to get into debt in order to have an expensive wedding ceremony, as this could cause marital problems in the future.
“I also believe that responsibility does not fall on the shoulders of young people alone, but society should also play an active role in this matter through changing the customs and behaviors which threaten the stability of marriage,” said Al-Ansari.