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Making sacrifices 'can harm relationships'

Posted on: May 2, 2013 16:35:12

Making sacrifices People who make sacrifices for their partner may risk damaging their relationship if they have had a stressful day themselves.

This is the conclusion of a new study by research scientist Casey Totenhagen, who specialises in exploring what makes romantic relationships work, at the University of Arizona.

She claimed that although making sacrifices for the other party in a relationship is generally a positive thing, people who do so when they are feeling particularly stressed could actually harm the quality of their relationship.

In the study, the term 'sacrifice' was used to represent any small change to a person's daily routine that is undertaken to support their partner, such as washing the dishes when it isn't their turn.

Ms Totenhagen studied the relationships of 164 couples, both married and unmarried, by asking them to complete a daily online survey over the course of the week. The participants had to indicate the daily sacrifices they made for their partners, as well as reporting on the number of 'hassles' they experienced that day and how badly they were affected by them.

They were also asked to indicate how committed and close they felt to their partners, and how satisfied they were with the relationship.

Analysis of the results revealed that those who made sacrifices for their other halves generally reported feeling more committed to their partners. However, when they made sacrifices on days when they felt particularly hassled, they did not feel more committed.

"When they were really hassled, those sacrifices weren't really beneficial anymore, because it was just one more thing on the plate at that point," Ms Totenhagen explained.

"You need to be mindful of the resources that you have to do those sacrifices at the end of the day."

The researchers explained that much of her work focuses on how everyday interactions, rather than major events, can shape relationships in both a positive and negative way.

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