While the stay-at-home orders may be testing people’s patience with their significant others, most romantic relationships are surviving and thriving in close quarters.
That’s according to a new Monmouth University poll, which found that half of couples in the United States predict they’ll come out of this coronavirus quarantine with a stronger relationship.
“It isn’t surprising that so many people are satisfied in their relationship," Gary Lewandowski, professor of psychology at Monmouth, said in a statement. “Our relationships are a key source of stability, and when the world feels uncertain, having your partner there to be your rock is assuring.”
As people in the Philadelphia region enter a third month of stay-at-home orders, cooped-up couples may take comfort in these findings. As the United States was starting to shut down in March, they may have seen discouraging reports out of China, where divorce rates were said to be skyrocketing as the nation came out of its own weeks-long lockdown.
The new study, however, indicates the pandemic may not be as bad for romantic relationships as originally feared, researchers said.
Of the people Monmouth surveyed — who were married, living with a significant other, or otherwise in a romantic relationship — 59% said they were “extremely satisfied," while 33% classified themselves as “very satisfied.” Few reported more neutral or negative feelings. Only 4% were “somewhat satisfied” and a measly 1% were “not too or not at all satisfied.”
The “extremely satisfied” percentage was consistent with pre-pandemic polls, researchers said, but the “somewhat satisfied” and “not satisfied” responses were cut in half. While married people generally reported greater satisfaction with their relationships during this time, there were no major differences by age, race, or gender.
The pandemic also hasn’t changed the way people behave in their relationship, the study found. Seven in 10 people said they don’t argue with their significant other more now than they used to, and 77% said their sex life hasn’t changed. According to the research, some said their relationships have even improved in these areas.
Lewandowski said those findings make sense.
“The extra demands on the relationship from managing work-life balance, home-schooling kids, and generally dealing with a global pandemic are balanced out by more quality time with the ones we love,” he said. “A couple steps back, another few forward, leaving us very close to where we started.”
While about a quarter of people said their relationship adds to the daily stress of living through a global pandemic, most people are optimistic about how the experience will affect the long-term success of their union. Similar poll results were reported after 9/11, Lewandowski said.
That optimism is a promising sign, researchers said.
“Although the results likely represent some overconfidence by respondents, research shows that optimism benefits relationships,” he said. “In fact, as long as couples have at least one optimist, both partners enjoy higher relationship satisfaction, even when one partner is less hopeful.”