What it is: Couples distress can take many forms and is often characterized by high conflict and/or disengagement from the relationship. Relationship distress can originate from a series of minor stressors or communication difficulties, or it can develop as the result of significant stressful events that occur inside (e.g., infidelity) or outside (e.g., loss of employment) of the relationship. Regardless of how it begins, unresolved relationship distress is likely to persist and worsen. Partners experiencing relationship distress often report that their relationship has fewer positive experiences, more negative experiences, less effective communication, lower emotional and physical intimacy, and lower relationship satisfaction.
Associated Concerns: Relationship distress is also associated with difficulties on the individual level including anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and problems in social interactions with people outside the relationship (e.g., children, co-workers).