Home » News » Keeping the Faith in Partner’s Efforts Can Improve Relationships

Keeping the Faith in Partner’s Efforts Can Improve Relationships

Imagine your partner routinely forgets special events such as Valentine’s Day or your birthday. This year, though, he makes a romantic effort to acknowledge the day.

New research suggests you will feel better about your relationship if you focus on his good-faith attempt rather than his past failings.

In the study, Northwestern University scientists found that the more you believe your partner is capable of change and perceive that he or she is trying to improve, the more secure and happy you will feel in your relationship.

Researchers say the positive approach is beneficial even if you think your partner could still do more.

“Many of us tend to under-appreciate our partner’s efforts to improve the relationship, simply because we do not have enough faith in those attempts,” said graduate student Chin Ming Hui, the lead author of the study.

“When we see those efforts in a positive light, we can enjoy our relationship much more.”

In this study, romantic couples were separated and asked to rate how much their partner was trying to improve his or her relationship-oriented characteristics, such as patience, understanding and being a good listener.

Three months later, the same couples were asked to rate their partner’s current standing on these relationship-oriented characteristics and their overall feelings about the relationship.

Researchers discovered that the more you think your partner is incapable of changing, the more your partner’s sincere efforts fail to improve the relationship.

“If you don’t believe that your partner is capable of changing his or her fundamental characteristics, even when he or she is working hard to try to improve your relationship, you can actually end up discounting these efforts,” said Daniel C. Molden, Ph.D., senior author of the study.

Researchers believe that even if you are skeptical that your partner can change, becoming aware of their efforts can help you appreciate their attempts and help your relationship improve.

“A secret to building a happy relationship is to embrace the idea that your partner can change, to give him or her credit for making these types of efforts and to resist blaming him or her for not trying hard enough all of the time,” Molden said.

This study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Source: Northwestern University

Keeping the Faith in Partner’s Efforts Can Improve Relationships

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Keeping the Faith in Partner’s Efforts Can Improve Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 15 Feb 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.