Washington: While making sacrifices in a romantic relationship is generally a positive thing, doing so on days when you are feeling stressed may not be beneficial, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

The study was led by Casey Totenhagen, a research scientist in the UA John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Participants in the study included 164 couples, married and unmarried, whose relationships ranged in length from six months to 44 years.

Each of the 328 individuals was asked to fill out daily online surveys, over the course of seven days, indicating the daily sacrifices they made for their partner in 12 categories, such as child care, household tasks and amount of time spent with friends, among others.

They also were asked to report on the number of hassles they experienced that day and how much those hassles affected them. The participants then ranked, on a scale of one to seven, how committed they felt to their partners, how close they felt to their partners and how satisfied they felt with their relationship that day.

Researchers found that individuals who made sacrifice for their significant others generally reported feeling more committed to their partners when they performed those nice behaviors. But when they made sacrifices on days when they had experienced a lot of hassles, they did not feel more committed.

"On days when people were really stressed and hassled, those sacrifices weren't really beneficial anymore, because it was just one more thing on the plate at that point," Totenhagen said.

It's worth noting, Totenhagen said, that individuals on the receiving end of a partner's sacrifice did not report feeling more committed to their partner, perhaps because they were unaware that their partner had done anything special for them; that lack of awareness is a phenomenon explored in other research and is something Totenhagen hopes to study more in depth in future.

When it came to feelings of relationship satisfaction and closeness, making sacrifices for one's partner seemed to have little bearing one way or another.

However, the daily hassles reported by an individual did affect closeness and satisfaction for both partners, regardless of which one experienced those hassles.

The findings will be published in the relationship journal of ‘Social and Personal Relationships,’ published by SAGE.


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