Winning Relationship Strategies

Relationship maintenance strategies can strengthen bonds with an intimate partner

(RxWiki News) What’s the secret to a great relationship? It may not be all that complicated, but rather an issue of a few strategic acts. A little of the right kind of effort can go a long way.

A recent study looked at 35 studies on relationships for associations between acts of relationship maintenance and positive outcomes in those relationships.

Results of the study confirmed that positivity, openness, giving assurances, sharing friends and family and sharing responsibilities and tasks can greatly impact the bonds in an intimate relationship.

“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,” said lead author, Brian Ogolsky, PhD.

"Do something nice for your partner today."

Dr. Ogolsky, assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign, led a study on the inner workings of healthy relationships.

Data from 12,273 participants from 35 different studies was used for this study. The Relationship Maintenance Strategies Measure (RMSM) is a commonly used tool to assess the efforts people put into their intimate relationships. There are five maintenance strategies in the RMSM: positivity, openness, assurances, social network and sharing tasks.

Dr. Ogolsky analyzed the state of relationship dynamics by associations between the five RMSM strategies and the levels of six relationship variables: satisfaction, commitment, control mutuality, love, liking and relationship duration.

Upon analysis, researchers found the following to be true:

  1. Both partners were more satisfied when more effort was put into the relationship maintenance strategies, especially with positivity and assurances.
  2. Both partners felt the levels of communication were better when more effort was put into the relationship maintenance strategies, especially with assurances.
  3. Both partners felt more love and liking when more effort was put into the all of the relationship maintenance strategies in general. Authors suggested pro-relationship behaviors inspired positive feelings about partners.
  4. Clear agreements on who makes what decisions in the relationship were linked to good relationship maintenance strategies as well. The authors suggested that good maintenance skills allowed partners to be aware of each other's needs and expectations for the relationship.
  5. While couples with good relationship maintenance skills had long-term relationships, not all long-term relationships involved couples with good relationship maintenance skills.

Dr. 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.”

Practicing good relationship maintenance strategies have the capacity to improve the bond between partners.

Contributing Expert for, Nicole Meise, PhD, said, "Relationships need regular check ups to ensure against serious breakdowns. Look at these five factors and ask yourself if they're present in your relationship. If they're not, it may be time to think about whether they're something you want to work on."

This study was published in November in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Grants provided by the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture provided funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 22, 2013