Actor and partner effects of COVID-19-related stress on relationship satisfaction, taking common dyadic coping into account: An APIM approach
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Due to COVID-19 measures such as isolation and working from home, daily routines and work-life balances were disrupted, generating COVID-19-related stress. It was predicted that this stress would spillover from one partner to the other, influencing couple interactions. Stress can have a detrimental effect on marital communication, increasing the risk of relationship problems and decreasing relationship satisfaction. This lowered relationship satisfaction could lead to relationship dissolution or divorce. The present research therefore investigated the association between COVID-19-related stress and relationship satisfaction, taking common dyadic coping into account. Seven hypotheses were established and tested in two studies that both made use of existing data. Study 1 (N = 275) used individual data; Study 2 (N = 186) used dyadic data and the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Based on both studies, it could be concluded that men's relationship satisfaction was not affected by COVID-19-related stress. Women's relationship satisfaction was only affected by their own COVID-19-related stress. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of dyadic coping in a romantic relationship; when couples engaged in better common dyadic coping, they were more satisfied with their relationship. In Study 1, high levels of common dyadic coping even weakened the negative association between COVID-19-related stress and relationship satisfaction. Couples should therefore be provided with tools and information to enhance their dyadic coping skills, so that they can protect their relationship from the detrimental effects of stress. Follow-up research could examine the role of different individual coping styles, and the influence of positive and negative attributions about one's partner's behavior.