As the novel coronavirus pandemic in Japan forces people to spend more time at home, nearly 20 percent of wives and husbands said in a survey that their relationships had improved due to increased communication.

In the survey, 19.6 percent of the 1,080 respondents aged in their 20s through 50s said their relationships had "improved" or "improved somewhat," 6.1 percent said that they had "worsened" or "worsened somewhat," while 74.3 percent responded that their relationships had not changed.

People wearing face masks walk in Nagoya, central Japan, on Nov. 19. 2020. (Kyodo)

The online poll was conducted by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. in mid-October ahead of Nov. 22, Good Couples Day in Japan. The numbers 11 and 22 can be pronounced "ii fufu" in Japanese, which means a good couple.

The new lifestyle necessitated by the pandemic, including increased teleworking, had led to a greater appreciation of partners, even though the phenomenon of "coronavirus divorce" among couples unable to cope with spending more time together has been widely mentioned on social media, the insurer said.

Of the 19.6 percent, or 212 husbands and wives, 62.5 percent said their relationships had improved as they were talking more to their partners, while 37.1 percent said having more meals together had helped.

The poll found that 27 percent of the wives and 17.1 percent of the husbands felt more supported, with 23.4 percent of the wives saying their spouses were helping more with housework and child care, compared with 6.1 percent of husbands.

Happier couples spoke each day for an average of 140 minutes on weekdays, and 329 minutes on weekends and national holidays, while the corresponding figures for couples whose relationships had deteriorated were 88 minutes and 156 minutes.

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