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Sex with Dr. Jess


August 24, 2020

Weddings In The Time of COVID

This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess shared her insights on how the pandemic has affected weddings and marital satisfaction. Check out the rough transcript and tips below!

You say that postponed weddings are having a mixed effect on couples, what are you seeing in terms of how couples are reacting?

One one hand, there is added stress with the extra toll on finances and the letdown that comes with planning for a the big day. When you’re riding or building to a high, dopamine levels rise with this anticipation, but when you’re dealt a setback with outcomes not meeting expectation, you experience disappointment and dopamine release subsides. Disappointment stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a chemical response. This, of course, can affect your mood, your energy levels and your libido – and some people becomes more impulsive — which can in turn take a toll on the relationship in terms of communication, interactions and sex.

But you say there is also an upside? How are some couples making the best of this tough situation?

On the other hand, some couples are re-planning their weddings and COVID has forced them to reconsider their priorities; this revising of expectations is one way to effectively attenuate the effects of disappointment. Rather than obsessing about napkin colours, centrepieces, order of speeches and whether or not to splurge on an extra course of lobster, they’re paring down their spending and focusing on what really matters: their connection. In doing so, we’re seeing micro weddings and minimonies in place of extravagant affairs that may be more about the crowd than the couple themselves. These are just smaller events with the same outcome: a promise of love and commitment for a lifetime.

Do these smaller events take the pressure off with less planning?

They might! But for some folks, cutting down the guest list can be a challenge, so slimming down to immediate family only and live-streaming for everyone else.

We’re also seeing a trend arise across the country with more spontaneous backyard weddings. Our friends, Lisa and Duane, have been together twenty years. They have two beautiful kids and a few weeks ago they decided to get married with just a tiny bubble of friends in their backyard.

You also say that some couples are feeling closer than ever in spite of weddings being cancelled and they’re opening up about their relationships like never before.

Yes. My cousin’s wedding was cancelled, so he and his lovely fiancé, rescheduled for next year, but took the original date to host a FB live for friends and family in which they shared and read their love notes from over the years. Some were fun and silly and others were really tender and personal and this is a level of intimacy we rarely if ever see in Western culture. Relationships continue to be relegated to the entirely private domain and in doing so, there is a cost. We don’t often ask for or offer support because we consider the intimate relationship a private matter (which is reflective of our more individualistic culture); but in more collective cultures, marriage is a community and family undertaking. Anyone who’s watching Indian Matchmaking right now must know what I mean. And the divorce rates in these marriages are lower than love marriages.

Speaking of divorce, apparently divorce lawyers are busy and predicting a divorce boom in the upcoming year.

Divorce numbers in many jurisdictions are down year over year (that may have to do with the fact that filing is the last step, so we don’t know how many are beginning the process right now), but that doesn’t mean that the lawyers aren’t keeping busy. Divorce has been on the decline (down by nearly half in the last decade), so I’m optimistic that people are still investing in relationships. And for those who have wedding planning on their minds, I implore you to invest in the marriage and not the wedding. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your micro-wedding is if the relationship itself isn’t fulfilling, so cut that wedding budget and use it to invest in yourselves as a couple instead.