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Nonprofit View: Relationships crumbling during the pandemic? Quite the opposite | COMMENTARY

“I do think that with COVID I now appreciate family more than I used to.”

This is a common theme we are hearing from our community; that the coronavirus pandemic has made our relationships stronger and closer. Anyone need a little good news? While a number of stories have emerged in recent weeks about how the pandemic is wreaking havoc on relationships at every level, in fact the opposite may be true.

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At the Marriage and Relationship Education Center (MREC) our focus is on forming and sustaining healthy relationships at each stage of life, from students to adulthood, for marriages and families. We are a community resource — providing classes, events and digital support to help relationships thrive at each stage of the adventure.

Strong families mean stronger communities, particularly in times of stress. That’s why we continue to focus upstream, with proactive approaches to building healthy relationships.

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Some interesting local data reinforces what we’ve taught for over 15 years now — that essential support systems are key to helping us navigate the ebb and flow of life.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office reports that during several months of the pandemic, emergency petitions were down significantly from the same time last year. That’s good news. When loved ones surround each other with encouragement and accountability, people tend to make healthier choices.

On a larger scale one report in particular sounded the alarm that marriages are crumbling under the pressures of COVID-19, and the negative perceptions don’t end there. Yet, so far there is no data to back that up. Quite the opposite.

A Monmouth poll this summer found some uplifting numbers: 59% say they are extremely satisfied with their marriage; 33% are very satisfied. Three-fourths (74%) of those with a partner commented that the coronavirus had not altered their relationship at all.

Just as encouraging, an August Ipsos poll found a staggering 71% of those in non-married relationships said they want to take their relationship to a more committed level since COVID-19 hit.

For most, but understandably not all, time together encourages people to work through their challenges, fight for their relationship — and not with each other, and or look for help from those who can walk alongside them. We provide guidance and resources to address these topics on our website www.mrecenter.org.

We are grateful that even during this challenging year, the community has faithfully supported our mission. Through virtual and face to face connections we have been able to interact with and impact over 20,000 individuals.

While the foreseeable future holds some limits for larger face to face events, the holidays on the calendar remind us that annual celebrations don’t take vacations from viruses. It’s important to find ways to engage on these days as well, even if you’re a day or too late. Just yesterday we celebrated Grandparents Day and on Sept. 26 we will celebrate National Family Day.

For additional information on these days and resources on building healthy relationships please call us at 410-386-9003 or visit online at www.mrecenter.org

Amy M. Gilford is the executive director of the Marriage and Relationship Education Center.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it, as our editorial. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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