The five best ways to improve your relationship are revealed by a review of 35 different psychology studies on 12,273 people.
- Being open about your feelings with your partner,
- being fun and upbeat,
- assuring your partner you are committed,
- sharing household tasks,
- and sharing your social network.
Crucially, though, your partner must notice these behaviours, or the effort is wasted.
Professor Brian Ogolsky, the study’s first author, said:
“Relationships are like cars in that you have to do certain things to keep them running, especially when your goal is to strengthen and preserve your bond with your partner.”
Being open involves both sharing your feelings as well as eliciting your partner’s feelings.
Professor Ogolsky said:
“It’s also important to assure your partner that you’re in the relationship for the long haul, to divide household chores and responsibilities equally, and to make an effort to include your partner’s friends and family in some of your activities.”
Professor Ogolsky explained the benefits of using these strategies:
“Persons who use any of these maintenance strategies will not only be more satisfied with and committed to their relationship, they are also likely to continue to love and, yes, even like each other throughout its duration.”
Letting your partner see the effort you are making is crucial, said Professor Ogolsky:
“Say you’ve arrived home from work and your intention all day has been to buy some flowers for your partner and surprise her with dinner.
Then you get wrapped up in a business phone call and your good intentions fall by the wayside.
You may feel as if you’ve put considerable effort into your relationship, but your partner didn’t see it so it does you no good.”
Even relatively modest efforts can be beneficial, said Professor Ogolsky:
“Even a small attempt at maintenance, such as asking how your partner’s day was, sending a humorous text to make him laugh, or picking up the phone and calling your mother- or father-in-law, can have a positive impact on your relationship and make you happier.”
→ Explore PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:
The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Ogolsky & Bowers, 2012).