Friends and family members can help to reduce the stress level associated with marital conflicts, according to the recent research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Under the research, 105 newlywed couples were studied, researchers kept daily records of marital conflict in their home environment and completed questionnaires about the number, quality, and characteristics of their connections with friends and family.
“We found that having a satisfying social network buffers spouses from the harmful physiological effects of everyday marital conflicts,” said Lisa Neff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the US. “Maintaining a few good friends is important to weathering the storms of your marriage,” Neff said.
To measure the level of stress, researchers collected morning and evening saliva samples of the couples for six days. Cortisol levels over the course of the day are a measure of the stress response.
The friends and family members that study participants reported having did not appear to affect couple's ability to handle conflicts nearly as much as the quality of those outside relationships.
“But we found that the association between marital conflict and cortisol responses completely disappears when people are happy and satisfied with their available social network,” Neff added.