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Effects of Natural Disasters on Relationships


Disasters sometimes change how people relate to each other; when couples go through a hard time together, how they relate to each other during and after the disaster gets altered (Jones & Faas, 2017). This study uses experimental techniques to assess how disasters affect married couples. The study used a longitudinal method to gather data from a sample of 231 newlyweds on how disasters boost or hinder relationships.

The study was carried out in Harris county Texas; this was an ideal location for the research due to its diversity. Researchers used ten questions from the Couples Satisfaction Index to measure satisfaction levels during all the mentioned stages. The scale score at each time point was calculated by adding the ten relationship-satisfaction questions (possible range = 0-51). The sample was identified by going through the registry of marriage certificate applications of Harris county.

Two hundred thirty-one couples made up the sample. One year had passed since their wedding. The number of teams successfully enrolled within the predetermined baseline period was used to calculate the sample size. We believe this study is the first to use longitudinal pre- and post-disaster data from 231 newlywed couples.

The study tries to determine how natural disasters affect relationships; natural disaster is the independent variable since it is the cause of changes in couple relationships. We try to determine whether disasters have a beneficial or harmful impact on relationship satisfaction. The couples were also identified as independent variables. The study tries to find how couples react to disaster and determine whether their satisfaction was boosted or reduced by experiencing hardship.

The dependent variable is the relationships. The level of satisfaction in the relationships depends on how the life-changing event, in our case, hurricane Harvey, affected couples who experienced it and how their relationship satisfaction was affected.

A disaster may alter a relationship’s developmental trajectory in two ways. As illustrated by the terror management model or downward trajectory, a sudden inflexion upward is predicted by the stress model. Satisfaction may occur in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, altering the initial trajectory. Second, because satisfaction changes at a different rate over time after the event, the trajectory may be changed over the long term.

The study concurred with the hypothesis and confirmed that disasters increase relationship satisfaction. We learned from our experiment that increased closeness and satisfaction in relationships were substantially correlated with the high growth in relationship satisfaction for husbands and wives from before to after the hurricane. We also discovered that although there were considerable improvements in spouses’ happiness from before to after the storm, the increase was just momentary; after the first boost, couples’ contentment declined (Epstein & Zheng, 2017). Teams seem to get closer just after a natural disaster, but as the recovery goes on, they return to how they were before the hurricane.


The study met our overall objective because it succeeded in obtaining and analyzing data from newly wedded couples. Diversity was also observed as couples from different ethnic backgrounds were selected as participants. The sample size of 231 participants was also adequate to ensure the data was enough to draw substantial conclusions. A sample size of 30 is the minimum recommended population size. The higher the sample size, the more likely it will represent the whole population.

The study methodology increases the validity of the findings. How well a method measures what it is supposed to measure is known as its validity. Using longitudinal methods for data collection ensured that enough time was made available for data collection and observation of changes in the population.

The study findings aligned with the terror management concept of psychology that proposes increased relationship satisfaction due to life-changing disasters. However, by the final pre-hurricane time, newlyweds with high scores had decreased to points below the maximum. As a result, their ability to raise relationship satisfaction was constrained. The study did not consider other qualitative factors that may lead to relationship satisfaction other than natural disasters (Epstein & Zheng, 2017).

Unwanted variables also influenced the study. Apart from the natural disaster as the stressor under study, other stressors like work and children influenced the final findings. The study did not solve this problem; thus, the validity of the findings was skewed. The couples were also newlyweds, which biased the study, as newlyweds usually have a high level of satisfaction with their relationships.

The study met most ethical considerations because participants were first met in person on several occasions to build rapport and trust before being contacted by phone for follow-ups. Moreover, we also ensured that every couple was willing to participate in this experiment.


The study used longitudinal data collection methods for pre-disaster, during, and after-disaster periods. A sample size of 231 couples from Harvey county ensured the validity of the findings. The study variable satisfaction levels being the dependent and couples and disaster being the independent were broadly measured too. The findings concurred with previous research findings that disasters boost relationship satisfaction levels.


Epstein, N. B., & Zheng, L. (2017). Cognitive-behavioural couple therapy. Current opinion in psychologypp. 13, 142–147.

Jones, E. C., & Faas, A. J. (2017). An introduction to social network analysis in disaster contexts. Social network analysis of disaster response, recovery, and adaptation (pp. 3-9). Butterworth-Heinemann.


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