CLEVELAND — This year has brought economic stress, emotional turmoil, and much more time spent with our significant others.

Many assumed divorce rates would sky rocket, however, Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers said studies show the opposite, and couples may even come out stronger on the other side of the pandemic.

“Of the 2,800 couples that were interviewed, they found that people were spending more quality time together,” Dr. Albers said. “They were engaging in new hobbies, they were giving each other more emotional support, and they were splitting household duties more equally than they ever had before.”

While that quality time is important, Dr. Albers said it’s also important to spend some time apart.

“It’s important to have some time alone,” she said. “Make sure that you give your spouse or significant other, some time to recharge their batteries, offer to leave the house for a little bit, or help them carve out that time that they can spend by themselves.”

A study of more than 11,000 couples narrowed down the number one predictor of a lasting relationship.

“And that is expressing appreciation of your significant other,” Dr. Albers said. “So today make sure that you mention one thing that you truly appreciate about your spouse. It can be something little or something that is really significant, but this is clinically shown to help to keep your relationship together.”

While the pandemic has brought many couples together, Dr Albers said it’s been a make-or-break with rocky relationships.

“The pandemic has had a very polarizing effect,” she said. “So, if relationships were already on the rocks or toxic, this gave a little push to end them. On the other hand, if there were some minor disagreements, people were able to put those aside and it helped to draw them closer together.”

Dr. Albers said if all of this time together is causing conflict in someone’s relationship, they may reach out to a couples or marriage counselor.

This could have a big impact on how they communicate with one another.