2020 is finally in the rearview mirror. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Last year was a very challenging year for many. As we close out that chapter, it’s good to reflect on lessons learned.

Many declared a year of vision as they launched into 2020, but maybe it turned out to be a year of clarity. A year filled with trials, a global pandemic, political and social unrest, just to name a few, turned into a year filled with opportunities, more family time, innovation and flexibility.

Despite all the challenges and uncertainties we faced in 2020, I’ve become aware of something that gives me hope: my marriage actually experienced some much-needed growth and is more joyful than before.

When W. Bradford Wilcox, Wendy Wang and Lyman Stone looked at the 2020 American Family Survey (AFS) recently, they discovered that couples are stressed out. No surprise there.

The burdens of 2020 impacted people across the spectrum. While the AFS sheds light on this, it also reveals some good news for married couples.

Here are a few things 2020 taught us about marriage:

• Healthy communication is a necessity.

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, many families found themselves at home. The bustle of a busy home 24/7 can be overwhelming.

Some transitioned to work from home, lost jobs or found their jobs classified as essential. Each scenario brought its own stressors and hurdles.

Through all of this, one need remained the same: communication. As couples adjusted to a new normal, there was a critical need to ensure that communication happened often and well.

As we venture into 2021, let’s keep healthy communication at the center of our marriage and family. Healthy communication helps marriage thrive.

• Marriage is about commitment and appreciation.

As a couple, you don’t have to face trials alone. Married couples can walk the road of uncertainty together hand in hand. As the pandemic began, many predicted a rise in divorce in America.

The thought was if couples had to spend extended time together, their marriage would not survive. Instead, the AFS found that divorce actually decreased in 2020. That’s great news!

More couples surveyed reported that their marriage grew stronger during the pandemic. They experienced a deeper commitment and appreciated their partner more. When times are tough, we turn to our loved ones for support, and 2020 was evidence of this.

Marriage provided a framework of support for many as the world around them closed.

In 2021, let’s continue to appreciate and commit to our partner. An appreciated spouse feels loved and respected.

• Prioritizing sex during stressful times can keep your marriage healthy.

A common assumption at the beginning of the pandemic was a baby boom. The thought was with the rise of couples at home together, there would obviously be an increase in pregnancies.

While we don’t know if the baby boom will happen, this survey shows that couples did prioritize sex in their marriage.

Although stress can often lead to a decrease in the frequency of sex, more couples reported an increase and connected intimately as a result of the pandemic. A healthy sex life is one sign of a healthy marriage.

As we launch into the new year, let’s continue to prioritize sex in our marriages.

Marriages in our nation have faced enormous challenges over the past few months. Resilience and determination have helped many cope with and overcome obstacles.

The importance of healthy communication, more appreciation and commitment, and a healthy sex life are invaluable takeaways from 2020.

As we move forward into this new year, let’s all take a moment and commit to making this the new normal of our marriages.

Mitchell Qualls is the operations director at First Things First. Contact him at mitchell @firstthings.org

Mitchell Qualls is the operations director at First Things First. Contact him at mitchell@firstthings.org

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