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The pandemic harms couple relationships, a research shows

People rated their couple relationships better last December compared to this April, according to a pilot study in the Contemporary Czech Family research project.

‘Please rate the satisfaction with your relationship on a scale of 0 to 10. The higher the number, the better the relationship.’ This is one of the questions asked to respondents in December 2020 and April 2021 as part of the ongoing Contemporary Czech Family project, which is being conducted by researchers from Masaryk University and Charles University. While at the end of last year the results averaged 8.3 points according to the pilot study, this year the respondents’ rated their satisfaction with an average score of just 7.8 points.

Fear of job loss ruins relationships

The study also revealed a link between relationship ratings and the fear of job loss: 68% of respondents who told interviewers that they considered it “likely” or “very likely” that they would lose their jobs in the next 12 months also admitted to a decrease in satisfaction with their couple relationships. For men, the link between relationship satisfaction and job situation was much stronger than for women.

“This is because the stress caused by economic insecurity and existing problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic spills over into their relationships as couples,” says Martin Kreidl, a sociologist from Masaryk University.

A break-up pandemic imminent?

The declining relationship satisfaction has not yet appeared in the number of break-ups, according to the pilot study. However, experts warn that a wave of separations might be imminent.

“This is partly because people are afraid to break up from their partner because of concerns about their livelihood. But this could change and the Covid-19 pandemic might be followed by a divorce pandemic,” adds Kreidl.

Interviewers put the Contemporary Czech Family survey questions to 1,200 respondents from across the Czech Republic in December last year and again this April, with the same people asked five months apart. In the case of their couple relationships rating, the pilot study took into account the responses of 512 respondents who were living in a common household with their partner at the time of the interview.

Thousands more respondents to join

The Contemporary Czech Family project continues and the researchers have the ambition to interview up to 6,000 respondents in total; each respondent will receive CZK 500 for participating in the project.

The Contemporary Czech Family is a collaborative effort implemented by experts from Masaryk University and Charles University within the international Generations and Gender Programme (GGP). The research will produce an extensive data set on how Czech families live and how they have transformed in recent years by comparing the data with the results of similar projects conducted in the past on what people thought about families and what their future plans were. Experts will also compare the data with information about families collected in other countries in Europe and beyond.

The data on Czech families and their comparison with international results will be made freely available on the Internet.