Marriage, babies, divorce: How COVID-19 has changed us

Exclusive: COVID-19 has triggered life-changing decisions for people with new research showing the shutdown has caused significant numbers of Australians to rethink the big decisions in their world.

Home, work, family and relationships have all come under scrutiny as priorities have shifted according to the new data from Bastion, commissioned for News Corp, which shows the pandemic has forced radical changes across all major fronts.

According to the data 10 per cent of couples have decided to have a baby or start a family, for eight per cent of people surveyed the pandemic has prompted them to get married and a further 10 per cent have gotten engaged, while seven per cent are moving in with their partner.

People are also making some big decisions about how they want to live their life with 13 per cent deciding to buy a smaller home, 16 per cent wanting to work less, 21 per cent undertaking a major renovation and nine per cent wanting a tree change and moving to the country.

 

Adam Humphreys and Emily Herbert got married during the pandemic and are also expecting their first child. Picture: Paul Mathews
Adam Humphreys and Emily Herbert got married during the pandemic and are also expecting their first child. Picture: Paul Mathews

But careers is where most of the seismic change is occurring with 25 per cent of people saying COVID has forced work change and 24 per cent saying it has made them rethink their work priorities.

Others said they are looking into changing jobs (22 per cent), intend to change careers (20 per cent) or amend their working hours (10 per cent).

There are also a number of people wanting to be their own boss with 13 per cent flagging an increased intention to start a business - despite the gloomy economic prospects.

For Tamworth newlyweds' freelance writer Emily Herbert and sculptor husband Adam Humphreys the pandemic triggered decisions beyond their control; in the last five months they have gotten married, fallen pregnant and had to leave their home in New Zealand.

In March this year they travelled to Australia to get married on Ms Herbert's family farm in Tamworth but when COVID hit their 200-person wedding was whittled down to just immediate family, their wedding dance turned out to be barefoot in the living room and she and her sisters did their own hair and makeup.

"It was magic, in its own way," she said.

 

"Beyond the hubbub of expectations and the festivals that weddings generally are, it felt intimate and special; an anchor in a whirlwind. We were both really sad not to share it with our extended family and friends. But we were grateful we could still say our vows."

Unable to return home the couple stayed on their farm and worked remotely and then the next month life changed again.

"We found out we were unexpectedly pregnant in April. It was a real surprise and it took us a while to get our footing, with everything going on. As the first baby of the next generation, it was such a gorgeous milestone to be able to share with my family, while also pretty strange not to be in our own space, in our own home."

Originally published as Marriage, babies, divorce: How COVID-19 has changed us