Relationship Satisfaction Has a Mediating Effect on General Well Being

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Temiz and Elsharnouby, a duo of Turkish researchers, studied how the Covid-19 pandemic-induced stress impacted relationship quality. They studied stress and anxiety within the context of Covid-19, their relationship with positive affect and life satisfaction, interpersonal emotion regulation strategies, and relationship satisfaction. 

The study was rather large, and the sample consisted of 877 Turkish married adults. With the help of statistical tools such as structural equation modeling and moderation analysis, the authors concluded that Covid-19 related stress was related to lower well-being. 

However, they also found that relationship satisfaction had a mediating effect on well-being variables such as positive emotions and life satisfaction. The study found that interpersonal emotion regulation strategies had no moderating effect on either stress or relationship satisfaction. 

When you are satisfied with your relationship in a marriage, you may experience lower levels of stress no matter how difficult the situation may be. To understand these dynamics within a therapeutic setting, we contacted Heather Wilson LCSW, LCADC, CCTP. Heather is the Executive Director at Epiphany Wellness. 

  1. What sort of problems and challenges do married couples face today?

Increased stress: The pandemic has also caused increased stress for many couples. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as financial concerns, job loss, or health concerns. This can lead to arguments and tension within the relationship.

Need for personal boundaries: With everyone spending more time at home, it can be difficult to establish personal boundaries in both time and space. Couples have to learn how to respect each other’s space and give each other some time apart, which is difficult to do within closed quarters.

Post-traumatic stress: Some couples may be dealing with post-traumatic stress due to the pandemic. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as witnessing someone get sick or experiencing a personal loss. This can lead to arguments, misunderstandings, and tension within the relationship. Couples may need help communicating about their feelings and needs.

  1. In what areas are these challenges most evident?

Many of the challenges that married couples face today are related to the stress caused by the pandemic and its aftermath. There are many causes for these troubles like forced isolation, exposure to illness and death, or financial troubles and job loss.

3. Before the pandemic, what were the most common challenges that married couples faced?

Many of the challenges remain the same even now. 

Lack of intimacy: Some couples are not able to maintain a level of intimacy that satisfies both partners. One partner may want more physical intimacy and affection than the other is willing to give. This can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as work obligations, children, or simply not making time for each other.

Lack of communication: Many couples find it difficult to communicate openly and honestly with each other. This can lead to misunderstandings, which can lead to arguments. Couples may not feel comfortable discussing certain topics, such as finances, sex, or family issues. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as different communication styles, different levels of comfort with conflict, or different values and beliefs.

Financial problems: Money is often a source of stress for couples. The stress of not having enough money and struggling to pay bills can lead to a lot of tension and frustration. Couples sometimes take out that frustration on each other, which leads to blame and resentment.

Infidelity: Research shows that 90% of all divorces result from infidelity. Infidelity can be a major source of stress for couples. It can lead to feelings of betrayal, anger, and resentment as well as depression and anxiety. Although the data is not definitive, research has found that the increased stress brought about by the pandemic could increase the likelihood of infidelity.

4. What would you advise to married couples with post pandemic challenges?

Couples facing challenges due to the pandemic need to learn how to communicate more openly and honestly with each other. They may also need to establish boundaries but make time for each other. Additionally, many couples who are experiencing post-traumatic stress would benefit from individual therapy aside from couples therapy.

5. What is the best therapy married couples can get?

Married couples benefit the most from Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). This type of therapy is focused on helping couples improve communication and connection. It can help couples resolve conflicts and rebuild trust because it aims to improve bonding and attachment in adult relationships.

Emotionally Focused Therapy enhances relationship satisfaction

According to Heather, many couples cannot maintain a level of intimacy that is satisfactory for both partners. Although one partner desires more physical intimacy, the other may not. In addition, she also describes lack of communication as a serious problem within the context of marital therapy. 

Lack of communication can result in disagreements and misunderstandings. Interestingly, Heather also mentions financial problems as a source of stress after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With the Turkish study we discussed above in context, it is essential to build relationship satisfaction to deal with life’s stressors. If you cannot improve your relationship satisfaction, you can consider Emotionally Focused Therapy, as Heather advises. 

Jaiyant Cavale, Clinical Psychologist
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