Jun 26, 2011 6:45 PM GMT
Research made ever more relevant with gay marriage having been approved in NY. That said - not just pertinent to relationships.
Scientists have documented the health benefits of staying in a long-term romantic relationship, including reduced illness and longer life. Employees who stick with a single company rather than job-hop tend for the most part to be better compensated financially and to be more productive and creative, other research has found. Another study shows that continuing to root for one's hometown team helps ease the anxiety of moving to a new city.
Studies looking at loyalty and trust suggest that these qualities may be fundamental to human relationships, some psychologists say. In life, there are few guarantees that another person isn't going to hurt us, they say. Therefore, staying loyal to someone, and preserving a mutual feeling of trust, allow people to be able to function with others without constantly suspecting their motives, they say.
Long-term commitment in relationships is tied to a greater sense of life satisfaction, happiness and a host of practical benefits, such as shared assets and children, research shows. People with strong social support or social engagement have been found to have lower risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks. One study of 4,000 men over a 22-year period found that married men in their 50s, 60s and 70s lived significantly longer than those of the same age who were never married or who were divorced or widowed, according to research by the RAND Center for the Study of Aging.
Another study, of 130 newlywed couples, found that almost all of the couples' conflict discussions were about whether or not they could count on the other person. Couples who were best at developing trust and loyalty in the relationship were those who focused on maximizing the well-being of their partner, not themselves, says John Gottman, director of the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle and an emeritus psychology professor at the University of Washington.
Fixing a relationship after one partner breaks the trust, through infidelity, for instance, requires both partners to desire to mend ties. But forgiving a partner too readily could have repercussions, says Eli Finkel, a social psychology professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who studies relationships.
Dr. Finkel and colleagues followed 72 heterosexual couples for five years after their marriages. The couples were asked to report their own levels of forgiveness, agreeableness, self-respect and self-esteem every six to eight months. People who were apt to forgive their partner without that partner making amends tended to show a gradual erosion of their self-respect, according to work the researchers published last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.