Based on the findings, it appears stress has a particular way of making people notice negative behaviors in their partners more so than positive behaviors.
“We found that individuals who reported experiencing more stressful life events outside of their relationship, such as problems at work, were especially likely to notice if their partner behaved in an inconsiderate manner,” Neff explains in a news release.
It’s also worth noting that the results didn’t indicate that simply having one bad day yielded these results but rather accumulated stress over time.
That means, if you know you’ve been stressed out lately, you may want to prioritize recognizing when your stress is bubbling over into other areas of your life, noticing when you may be unnecessarily scrutinizing your partner, and letting them know when you’re feeling the effects of stress.
“If stress focuses individuals’ attention toward their partner’s more inconsiderate behaviors, this is likely to take a toll on the relationship,” says Neff.
She adds that going forward, researchers ought to look into how this study might play out in couples beyond the newlywed phase. “But the fact that we found these effects in a sample of newlyweds speaks to how impactful the effects of stress can be,” she adds.