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Partners in lockdown: Relationship stress in men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic

Janneke M. Schokkenbroek (UGent) , Wim Hardyns (UGent) , Sarah Anrijs (UGent) and Koen Ponnet (UGent)
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Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected people’s lives and relationships. On March 13, 2020, the Belgian government issued lockdown measures which constrained most people’s work and social life to the confines of their own home. For couples who lived together, being locked down together potentially placed a lot of stress on their relationship. As relationship stress can have detrimental (mental) health outcomes, it is important to identify which relationship aspects were particularly stressful during the pandemic lockdown. The present study aimed to investigate whether perceived relationship stress about five specific relationship aspects (i.e., conflict, diverging attitudes, restrictions, less connectedness, and neglect) differed before and during the lockdown, and between men and women. We conducted an online survey study among 2,889 respondents between April 3 and 17, 2020. A total of 1,491 respondents (76.3% female, Mage = 41.23) lived together full-time with their partner at the time. Our findings indicate that during the lockdown, women experienced more relationship stress than men because of conflict and diverging attitudes within their relationship. Furthermore, both men and women experienced more stress during the lockdown than before because they felt restricted in their relationship. Lastly, women reported significantly more perceived relationship stress during the pandemic lockdown compared to before because of conflicts they experienced within their relationship. Our findings provide important information for policymakers and health-care professionals to help couples who endure relationship hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown or in possibly similar situations in future crises. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords
relationship stress, sex differences, coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown

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MLA
Schokkenbroek, Janneke M., et al. “Partners in Lockdown: Relationship Stress in Men and Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2021, doi:10.1037/cfp0000172.
APA
Schokkenbroek, J. M., Hardyns, W., Anrijs, S., & Ponnet, K. (2021). Partners in lockdown: Relationship stress in men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000172
Chicago author-date
Schokkenbroek, Janneke M., Wim Hardyns, Sarah Anrijs, and Koen Ponnet. 2021. “Partners in Lockdown: Relationship Stress in Men and Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000172.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Schokkenbroek, Janneke M., Wim Hardyns, Sarah Anrijs, and Koen Ponnet. 2021. “Partners in Lockdown: Relationship Stress in Men and Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. doi:10.1037/cfp0000172.
Vancouver
1.
Schokkenbroek JM, Hardyns W, Anrijs S, Ponnet K. Partners in lockdown: Relationship stress in men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. 2021;
IEEE
[1]
J. M. Schokkenbroek, W. Hardyns, S. Anrijs, and K. Ponnet, “Partners in lockdown: Relationship stress in men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2021.
@article{8716404,
  abstract     = {{The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected people’s lives and relationships. On March 13, 2020, the Belgian government issued lockdown measures which constrained most people’s work and social life to the confines of their own home. For couples who lived together, being locked down together potentially placed a lot of stress on their relationship. As relationship stress can have detrimental (mental) health outcomes, it is important to identify which relationship aspects were particularly stressful during the pandemic lockdown. The present study aimed to investigate whether perceived relationship stress about five specific relationship aspects (i.e., conflict, diverging attitudes, restrictions, less connectedness, and neglect) differed before and during the lockdown, and between men and women. We conducted an online survey study among 2,889 respondents between April 3 and 17, 2020. A total of 1,491 respondents (76.3% female, Mage = 41.23) lived together full-time with their partner at the time. Our findings indicate that during the lockdown, women experienced more relationship stress than men because of conflict and diverging attitudes within their relationship. Furthermore, both men and women experienced more stress during the lockdown than before because they felt restricted in their relationship. Lastly, women reported significantly more perceived relationship stress during the pandemic lockdown compared to before because of conflicts they experienced within their relationship. Our findings provide important information for policymakers and health-care professionals to help couples who endure relationship hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown or in possibly similar situations in future crises. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)}},
  author       = {{Schokkenbroek, Janneke M. and Hardyns, Wim and Anrijs, Sarah and Ponnet, Koen}},
  issn         = {{2160-410X}},
  journal      = {{Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice}},
  keywords     = {{relationship stress,sex differences,coronavirus,COVID-19 pandemic,lockdown}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  title        = {{Partners in lockdown: Relationship stress in men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000172}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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