A relationship can lower the risk of depression
For ten years now, researchers from various universities have been investigating questions regarding the design of partnership and family in the Federal Republic within the scope of the 14-year long-term study "Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics" (Pairfam). The study aims to clarify fundamental questions about partnerships. The scientists want to find out how couples find each other, how they shape their relationship and why some couples stay together and others don't. The first research results from the University of Jena are now available.
In the long-term study, the researchers question 12,000 people annually, including their partners, parents and children. The major project is financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). A team led by Prof. Dr. Franz J. Neyer and Dr. Christine Finn recently presented the first study results from the past two years, which were summarized in a press release from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Among other things, the scientists found that a partner with a strong sense of self-worth can lower the risk of depression for the other relationship partner.
A strong partner can prevent depression
"Together with Canadian cooperation partners, we have succeeded in disclosing the interaction between self-esteem and depression within a couple relationship," explains Neyer. A low self-esteem often increases a person's depression, but a partner with greater self-esteem could have a positive effect on the other partner and thus cushion the higher risk of developing depression. With such information, the development of mental illnesses may be better understood.
Significant relationship issues
Why do some couples spend a whole life together and others separate? "Without a long-term study like Pairfam, such a problem can hardly be examined in more detail," explains Christine Finn. This is the only way to look at the development of a relationship from the beginning to possible failure from the perspective of the two partners. Finn's team was able to determine that the perception of the needs of the individual within a relationship is crucial for the course of the common path. For example, if a person is concerned about maintaining independence within a relationship, it would be an advantage if the partner also sees it that way.
An imbalance can contribute to failure
"If there is an imbalance and someone feels they are missing out, it will most likely not work for long," explains Finn. In contrast, according to Finn, couples who are in agreement develop synchronously and “gradually rock in”. It is often not critical crisis situations that are responsible for a separation, but personal characteristics that are clear from the start.
The results could contribute to shaping society
According to Neyer, such scientific knowledge can help to shape society. Based on the information from the long-term study, his colleagues could have read how the views on the division of labor within a partnership have changed since the introduction of parental allowance. The scientists are now particularly excited about the evaluation of the younger generations around the turn of the millennium and how, for example, the Internet affects partnerships. (vb)