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The pandemic has truly altered every area of our life, and that means our relationships are also on the rocks. With couples being under the same roof all the time, it has been particularly hard for them to avoid friction. On the other hand, there have also been couples who haven’t been able to meet for months, owing to the covid-induced lockdown. But guess what? Research suggests that those couples who blamed the pandemic for their stress were happier in their relationships. These findings were a part of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
In the past, research has revealed that romantic partners often have outbursts when they are stressed. They tend to project it on each other, and this is called stress spillover. Major events like natural disasters are always associated with poor relationship functioning. Moreover, the stressors are way more visible in routine situations, which is why people may be a little more aware that stress is affecting them.
“Because of this awareness, when major stressors occur, romantic partners may be less likely to blame each other for their problems and more likely to blame the stressor, which may reduce the harmful effects of stress on the relationship,” said Lisa Neff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and one of the study’s co-authors.
Researchers suggest that the pandemic has given rise to several situations, where couples are spending more time together. Moreover, with job losses and pay cuts, and growing fear and anxiety due to the virus, there is an impending sense of doom. Researchers analyzed data collected from 191 participants during the early weeks of the pandemic and again seven months later. The findings suggested that even though couples were less happy in a relationship in the face of increased stress, yet the harmful effects of stress were weaker among those individuals who blamed the pandemic for their stress.
“Some people come together and they say, ‘This is a stressful situation and we’re going to tackle this together, and we’re not going to blame each other for things that are hard or difficult,’” said Marci Gleason, associate professor of human development and family sciences at UT Austin.
And while researchers were of the view that blaming the pandemic might go down with time, that hasn’t really happened. That’s also because the virus hasn’t disappeared; instead, it has become back stronger, all because of constant mutations.
But all in all, stress is something that can be tackled, and more so, when there’s communication about it.