For any couple experiencing arguments and conflicts due to stress and other challenges, they result in emotional burdens such as anger, guilt, unhappiness, etc.
Such couples should identify their source of disputes and solve them. This action may involve confronting their emotional responses and creating a comfortable discussion environment.
Besides, a significant concern during a couple’s therapy session involves how conflict affects a partner’s body. Some couples feel stomachs upsets, chest discomfort, choking-up, shortness of breath, among others.
However, the human body also responds physiologically by increasing cortisol during distressing moments such as couples stresses.
Usually, cortisol levels in the body are high within waking up hours and decrease gradually during the day.
However, disrupting this pattern through stress can even cause cortisol imbalance, affecting the immune and metabolic system.
It means when couples conflict, they create more stressful consequences, causing irregularities in the cortisol hormone. Later their bodies may experience long-term health problems or even long life issues.
What Research Says about Couples Stresses and Cortisol
Recent research published in Psycho-neuroendocrinology indicates the possibility of a particular partner’s stress affecting the other one. The study analyzed cortisol as a primary factor for how a couple’s interrelationship can influence each spouse’s physical health.
For two days, researchers assessed 43 couples to determine their stress and cortisol levels while engaging them in marital issues. The assessed participants had an average of over 11 years and were permanently employed.
The researching team investigated whether both partner’s experiences and perceptions of stress affected their cortisol levels. They also analyzed whether the connection between cortisol and couple stresses worsened with more negative habits during disagreements.
According to the research, cortisol levels can either increase or decrease depending on how affectionately partners communicate and their negative habits. Additionally, having a caring, responsive, and understanding partner contributes to healthier cortisol patterns for many successive years.
Essentially, the research’s discoveries imply that couples with a more stressed partner had cortisol levels that were less likely to drop throughout the day. Contrariwise, those whose partners were less stressed had healthier cortisol levels that declined steeply across the day.
The findings also imply that a partner’s feelings during an argument, the recovery rate, and long-term health don’t necessarily matter during disagreements. But the crucial considerations involve each partner’s stress levels, and how it affects their ability to participate in significant challenging matters and the recovery capability.
Moreover, the research also noted the benefits of positive conflict habits. For instance, couples who displayed humor, practical problem-solving skills, listened to the other attentively and admitted mistakes had fewer cortisol levels, even when their partners were stressed.
This study possibly implies two factors that may interfere with the stress and cortisol functions. These include restoring a particular partner’s distress so that it doesn’t affect the other one. The other factor is working to improve a couple’s relationship and interaction to protect against the influence of external stressors.
Success in either way may benefit both the health of each partner, including the condition of their relationships.