This first article of our project Love in Times of Covid aimed to explore which impacts the pandemic had on couples in its early stages (spring 2020). This included examining whether relationship satisfaction decreased at the onset of the pandemic, whether this was more prevalent among noncohabitants than cohabitants due to mobility constraints, and what predictors might predict the perceived change in relationship satisfaction.
In order to answer the research questions, we only included the first measurement point of the longitudinal study in April 2020 in order to draw conclusions about the initial period of the pandemic. At this measurement point, participants indicated how satisfied they were with their relationship currently and also retrospectively reported their relationship satisfaction before the pandemic.
A mixed analysis of variance with repeated measures (ANOVA) was used to compare relationship satisfaction in April 2020 with retrospectively assessed satisfaction before the pandemic and to compare cohabitating and non-cohabitating participants. To identify predictors of change in relationship satisfaction, we computed multivariate regressions.
Overall, we found relationship satisfaction during the pandemic to be lower than retrospectively recorded satisfaction before the pandemic, with this difference being significantly stronger among non-cohabitating individuals. Moreover, in an additional analysis, we found that sexual satisfaction in particular declined at the beginning of the pandemic, again mainly among non-cohabitating participants.
To explore this stronger impact of the pandemic among non-cohabitating individuals in some detail, we examined the information on whether and what relationship-related activities had changed as a result of the pandemic. Cohabitating individuals reported that conversation and joint activities occurred somewhat more frequently at the start of the pandemic, sexual activity and conflict occurred at about the same rate, and only time for oneself (i.e., time without one’s partner) decreased. In contrast, non-cohabitating individuals reported that joint activities, sexual activities, and also conflicts decreased significantly, while the frequency of conversations remained the same and time for oneself increased.
WHICH FACTORS HAD A POSITIVE INFLUENCE?
WHICH FACTORS HAD A NEGATIVE INFLUENCE?
Vigl, J., Strauss, H., Talamini, F., & Zentner, M. (2022). Relationship satisfaction in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-national examination of situational, dispositional, and relationship factors. Plos one, 17(3), e0264511.