The hashtag “Xi’an divorce appointment explosion” has gained 32 million reads to date on Weibo. Credit: Zee News.

For the past two months, most of China has been working from home — many of them, for the first time in their lives — ordering groceries to their doorstep with little human contact, and avoiding unnecessary social activities outside of their households, due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

During this unprecedented nationwide quarantine many Chinese couples have been forced to re-examine their relationships in confinement — and to vent their feelings online, Radii China reported.

In fact, for many married couples, the lockdown was a period that revealed the “true side” of their spouses.

But as cities gradually return to their normal routine, there has been a flurry of news and discussion about divorces rates rising all over the country, leading many to speculate that there may be a post-Covid-19 divorce phenomenon waiting in the wings, the report said.

In Dazhou, in western China’s Sichuan province, the head of the local marriage office told Pear Video that they had seen a surge in couples divorcing since the office reopened on February 25, the report said.

“With all the appointments for divorces that have been made,” he said, “we will be fully booked up to the end of March.”

Elsewhere, districts in the city of Xi’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, reported an “unprecedented” number of divorces once marriage offices reopened on March 1. The hashtag “Xi’an divorce appointment explosion” has gained 32 million reads to date on Weibo.

Similar reports of divorce appointments being fully booked until the end of April are circulating across major cities in China, the report said.

These early reports project a less than ideal scenario for the Chinese government and relevant authorities, who were hoping nearly two months under lockdown would lead to an increase in China’s birth rate, which has been decreasing for a number of years.

Weeks ago, a photo made the rounds online — supposedly taken in Luoyang, Henan province — of an official banner that read: “Contribute to your country by staying at home, and making a second child.”

Though there could still be a post-quarantine baby boom later this year, many others took to social media to say they were choosing to split from their partners because they’d found out about spouses’ affairs, or discovered irreconcilable differences that were previously bearable, the report said.

When one female netizen found out about her husband’s infidelity while in confinement with him, she took to her Weibo to announce their decision to divorce. According to her, the two clashed over their different views of marriage, the report said.

“He doesn’t consider anything besides going to bed with someone as cheating,” she writes. “But in my view, even questionable texts are cheating.”

Local officials urged couples to reconsider these “impulsive” divorces, which they blame on spending an unprecedented amount of time together at home. Some cities have lowered the number of divorce appointments allowed per day. But this does not seem to be slowing the trend.

As one user on Weibo put it, “If you can’t get along well for just one month, can such a marriage be counted on for a lifetime?”

The strain has taken on an even darker edge in some cases, with a growing number of domestic abuse reports emerging from the Covid-19 period, the report said.

In late February, during peak quarantine period, one Weibo user observed about his neighbors: “The residents in the opposite building must have domestic violence, quarreling, crying every night. […] I wonder if this will turn into a lunatic asylum before the epidemic is over.”