Everyday frustrations like work stress and financial worries can take a toll on relationships, so what happens when couples are hit with a challenge like the pandemic? Well, it all depends on where they put the blame from the huge stressor. And according to a newstudy, those who blame their stress on COVID instead of on their partner are happier in their relationship.
Previous research has shown that romantic partners tend to be more critical of each other when they’re under heavy stress, but that may not hold true for major events, like natural disasters - or in this case, a pandemic. And that may be because in those cases, people are more aware that stress is affecting them and that the circumstances are out of their partner’s control. So researchers looked into whether blaming the pandemic for problems could ease stress on their relationship, known as stress spillover.
And they found that those who put the blame for their current problems on the pandemic rather than on their S.O. were better able to handle the negative effects of stress. Study authors caution that identifying the sources of stress isn’t a cure-all for couples, but it’s worth a try.
- Study co-authorLisa Neff,an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, explains that shifting the blame away from each other and onto the stressor “can help partners support each other more effectively, and ultimately, be more successful in weathering those difficult times.”