The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on many couples’ relationships and married Filipinos in the UAE were not spared.
In many parts of the world, stories of pandemic-induced separations, divorces, and break-ups are increasingly becoming common.
Interest for divorce in the United States, for example, jumped by 34% in 2020, with newlyweds comprising 20% of individuals who filed for divorce, according to data collected by Legal Templates, a firm that provides legal documents online.
The case in the United Kingdom was more disturbing. As per British law firm Stewards, for instance, they have noted at least 122% increase in divorce inquiries between the period of July and October last year.
Although these data were not conclusive, the pressure in the time of corona, as per experts, was further straining many relationships already on the rocks. This was also felt by some Pinoy couples in the UAE.
Almost a year of dwindling finances after being laid-off, couple Vanessa and Andy, married for 3 years, awefully parted ways. They have yet to resolve their marital issues, as of this posting.
Vanessa, 29, said she did not see it coming, but many things happened during the height of the outbreak.
“Parang hindi ko na siya kilala, sobrang layo ng ugali niya before siya mawalan ng work dito sa Dubai,” she said, adding that bickering happened almost every day.
“Naiistress ako na halos araw-araw na lang kami mag-away, pati simpleng bagay parang nabo-blow out of proportion. Days would pass talagang matigas. Walang magpakumbaba.”
The last straw was a quarrel about their unpaid accommodation. “Pareho kasi kaming na-layoff. Akala namin madali lang ‘to na kakayanin namin makahanap ng work agad. Pero after slowly mag-open up [ang UAE economy] nung June, hirap pa rin kaming makapasok [sa trabaho],” Vanessa recalled.
“Umabot yun [walang trabaho] hanggang November na walang tumatanggap. Start ng July, mainit na pareho ang ulo eh. Kasi by that time, paubos na lahat ng ipon namin talaga. Tapos nung sumunod na buwan, hindi na kami makabayad ng flat. Yun, mas lalong gyera… Sisihan kung saan dinala ang pera. Bakit ganito, bakit ganyan,” the Pinay added.
While Vanessa and Andy have spent 5 and 7 years in the UAE, respectively, the Pinay admitted that most of their earnings went to their families back home. Even when they were already living under one roof, half their salaries were allotted for their individual families.
She decided to leave their flat before Christmas and has not spoken with Andy since then. “COVID ended what we’ve built together. Pero hopeful pa rin naman ako. Palamig lang siguro muna kasi baka yun ang kailangan naming pareho.”
Things also started to turn sour between couple Jean and Nikko last year.
Married for 6 years, Jean was busy with her work as accountant while her partner Nikko was working as architect.
Initially, Jean thought they would have more time to be together, but her husband was stuck most of the time in front of his computer.
“Magkasama nga kami sa bahay pero ang layo naman sa isa’t isa,” said the mother of two. “Mas lalo ata kaming nawalan ng oras.”
However, she admitted that their relationship was already hanging in tatters even before the pandemic struck. “Marami issues noon pa man. Di ko na maisa-isa pero malaking part sa nangyaring ‘to yung naubos nalang ako.”
“Hindi pa naman hiwalay. Pero ngayon, I take time na pakiramdaman din yung nasa loob ko talaga kasi ang mahirap yung nawalan ka na ng amor. Laging kong sinasabi sa kanya ‘tong nararamdaman ko noon pero parang binabalewa ba? Yun na siguro yung nag-trigger din,” Jean narrated.
The Pinay decided to take her two children with her in Ajman last January. They live together with her sister.
While Nikko still pays a visit every weekend, she feels uneasy with him around. “Di ko na pinapaakyat. Ready na yung dalawa [anak ko] before sya dumating. Para lalabas nalang sila pag narinig na nila na andyan na yung papa nila.”