Recent studies have found that a partner or parent will often hide their concerns or deny their problems in what is called protective buffering from the other parent or partner when:

  • The other partner or parent has a high stress job.
  • In relationships and / or families where one parent works away for significant periods of time.
  • If they believe their worries aren’t as significant as their partners problems.

Often when couples are confronted with a stressful situation they must balance their desire to disclose their stress with each other, with their desire to protect each other from worrisome information. One party will be hesitant to share stressful information if they feel the strain will be too much for their partner – protective buffering. It has also been found that the more risky or stressful the job then the more likely a partner will engage in shielding their loved one from information that will increase their stress levels.

Protective buffering is not good for a relationship

Protective buffering has been found to have important consequence for the health of relationships that are experiencing stressful circumstances. The following research results have been found:

  • The person doing the protective buffering experiences an increase in their own distress levels.
  • Partners who both engage in protective buffering identified a decrease in relationship satisfaction.
  • The more partners felt that they could disclose to each other, the more satisfaction they were with their relationship.
  • Partners who encourage good social and family support also experienced better relationships and less protective buffering.
  • It is important for each partner to demonstrate interest and be receptive to the other persons distress, in order to reduce protective buffering in a relationship.
  • People who share their worries with others have been found to have improved physical and mental health as well as overall wellbeing.

To sum it all up, having good open communication is key to a successful relationship. It has been proven that relationships where couples are able to openly talk about the worries and stress they are each facing actually thrive and report much greater relationship satisfaction levels.