Time spent together in intimate relationships: Implications for relationship functioning

Abstract

Current models of relationship functioning often emphasize conflict with a particular focus on the behaviors that occur in that context. Much less is known about the impact of time spent interacting in the absence of conflict. The primary aim of this study is to test associations between time spent in various forms of daily interaction (engaging in a shared activity, talking, and arguing) and multiple relationship outcomes while controlling for positive and negative communication during conflict. The present sample consists of 49 married couples (N=98 individuals). Data were analyzed using multilevel models to account for non-independence of the data. Consistent with previous literature, communication behaviors were related to relationship outcomes. After controlling for communication, couples who spent more time arguing per day were less satisfied in their relationships, and perceived greater negative qualities in their relationships. Finally, couples who spend a larger proportion of their time together talking reported greater satisfaction, perceived more positive qualities in their relationships, and experienced greater closeness. These findings suggest that low salience interactions account for unique variance in relationship functioning above and beyond what is currently studied. Future research is needed to determine possible mechanisms by which low salience interactions are related to relationship outcomes.

Publication
Contemporary Family Therapy

Full Citation:
Hogan, J.N., Crenshaw, A.O., Baucom, K.J.W., & Baucom, B.R.W. (2021). Time spent together in intimate relationships: Implications for relationship functioning. Contemporary Family Therapy, 43(3), 226-233.