Exploring Exercise as a Dyadic Moderator between Perceived Stress and Relationship Satisfaction for Couples in Therapy
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Human Development and Family Science
MetadataShow full item record
Despite the overwhelming evidence for exercise as an effective form of stress management, very little research exists in the context of couple relationships. The purpose of this study was to examine how exercise could moderate the dyadic associations between each partner’s perceived stress and relationship satisfaction using an actor-partner interdependence moderation model (APIMoM) for couples in therapy. Analyses were conducted to address four research questions using the baseline (pre-therapy) scores: (1) Is an individual’s reported stress associated with their own relationship satisfaction? (2) Does an individual’s reported weekly METs (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) moderate the association between their own stress and their own relationship satisfaction for each partner? (3) Is an individual’s reported stress associated with their partners’ reported relationship satisfaction? (4) Does an individual’s reported weekly METs moderate the association between their partners’ stress and their own relationship satisfaction? Higher men’s and women’s stress was associated with lower men’s relationship satisfaction, and higher women’s stress was associated only with lower women’s relationship satisfaction. Results also indicated low, moderate, and high weekly METs significantly moderated the relationship between stress and relationship satisfaction for men and women, such that at lower stress and high weekly METs, relationship satisfaction increased, while at higher stress and high weekly METs, relationship satisfaction decreased. However, weekly METS did not moderate the relationship between one’s partners’ stress and their own relationship satisfaction. These findings both support and contradict dyadic theories of stress and suggest the differential associations between stress and relationships (either buffering or exacerbating) could be related to the internal and external nature of stress rendering exercise less stress reducing. These results could help therapists in both the assessment and intervention in stress and exercise for couples in therapy.