Much Stress Leads to Think More Negative in Spouse’s Behaviour


Stressful life can affect relations between married couples. Well, a person with much stress  is more likely to see their spouse’s negative behaviour than positive, according to a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The study shows that the negative behaviour may include a spouse breaking a promise, showing anger or impatience, or criticising their partner.

Lead author Dr Lisa Neff (University of Texas at Austin) said; “We found that individuals who reported experiencing more stressful life events outside of their relationship, such as problems at work, were especially likely to notice if their partner behaved in an inconsiderate manner.”


The Researchers held a short survey among 79 heterosexual newly wed couples. In the survey, the couples were asked both to record their partner’s behaviour. Before the start of the survey, the participants completed a questionnaire in which they shared details on stressful events in their life.

Studying newly weds drives home the significance of the results, Dr. Neff notes, because couples are especially likely to focus on each other’s positive behaviour and overlook negative actions during the “honeymoon” period.

The lead researcher said that the past few years have been difficult for many people and the stress of the pandemic continued to linger. “If stress focuses individuals’ attention toward their partner’s more inconsiderate behaviours, this is likely to take a toll on the relationship,” Dr. Neff said.


The study said that a single stressful day was not enough to make someone zero in on their partner’s negative behaviour. But a longer accumulation of stressful life circumstances could cause this shift in focus, they added. The findings also suggest that those under stress were not any less likely to notice their partner’s positive behaviour, but they were more likely to notice inconsiderate actions.

While it’s possible that being aware of the effects of stress could allow couples to correct their behaviour and limit harm to the relationship, Dr. Neff notes that this will remain speculation until it is studied further. She also says that future research would do well to expand this study beyond the honeymoon phase.


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