A new research article that we published today sheds some light on why and how relationships change after two people go from being in a relationship to being in a marriage.

Both types of relationships value the belief that your partner is there to help you grow into that person that you aspire to be.

The belief that your partner helps you to better live up to your commitments and responsibilities was only found in more satisfied marriages, however. This belief wasn’t found as important in non-marital relationships (which is not surprising, since marriage is the epitome of a commitment one can make to another person).

The research also found that for dating couples, the relationship itself tends to revolve around whether things are moving forward:

Happiness with a partner depends on whether the relationship will grow into something more, whether a partner will support the dreams the other eventually hopes to achieve.

For married couples, the feeling that their partners are helping them to advance their relationships and realize their ideal achievements is still important. But the relationships of married couples, now more interconnected both practically and psychologically, tend to revolve around upholding the commitment made to their partners.

Unlike dating couples, married couples also put a high premium on their partners’ support of whatever they determine to be necessary obligations.

It’s interesting to note how a single piece of paper, which changes virtually nothing in our day to day lives, can change everything for us psychologically how we view a relationships.

It also might help explain why when one party violates that commitment and responsibility, it can be seen as an unforgivable act by one’s partner. Such commitment is so highly valued in a marriage, as opposed to a dating relationship, that it can put far more meaning onto such acts.

Read the full article: Why Relationships Change After Marriage