How resilient is your relationship? Resilient relationships persevere, even in times of adversity. Life can offer couples all sorts of challenges—distance, conflict, infidelity, child or parent-related hardships, sickness—an unimaginable number of possibilities, not to mention all the other everyday bumps in the road and normal stressors that can wear down a relationship.
How can we foster resilience in our relationships?
New evidence shows that during acute stress, people tend to have trouble engaging in the kind of behaviors that promote relationship stability, like ignoring alternative partners and reassuring one’s own partner (Lewandowski, Mattingly, & Pedreiro, 2014). Healthy habits that become part of how a relationship operates may be useful buttresses against the effects of stress, or may help you persist through trying times.
Consider the following questions to help gauge your own relationship’s resilience:
Resilience in times of serious difficulty can come in many forms. The above questions highlight an important but limited set of individual traits such as self-control and growth beliefs, and partner dynamics such as gratitude that foster resilience. Commitment, investment, and on-going work promote relationship health, but no one recipe works for all couples, especially given the many diverse types and severities of stressors that we can encounter.
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Kubacka, K. E., Finkenauer, C., Rusbult, C. E., & Keijsers, L. (2011). Maintaining Close Relationships Gratitude as a Motivator and a Detector of Maintenance Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1362-1375.
Lewandowski Jr, G. W., Mattingly, B. A., & Pedreiro, A. (2014). Under Pressure: The Effects of Stress on Positive and Negative Relationship Behaviors. The Journal of Social Psychology, (just-accepted).