Many psychological studies have tried to establish what the key factors are for successful relationships, with most emphasising communication. However what preludes communication is time. Time spent with your partner, time invested into a new relationship or an existing one. Without time or the efforts that come with it there can be no communication or growth in a relationship.
Quite often when we say we have a lack of time, we are too focused on other aspects of our life, our careers, our friends, hobbies or so on. We forget to stop and realise that the relationship we have right in front of us still takes time and effort every day. This brings to the forefront the aspect of maintenance in relationships and how this is a factor in having a successful relationship.
It is widely believed that effort and energy are only essential in the early stages of forming a relationship. That once the relationship stage has passed the honeymoon phase, the affiliation between both partners is set. However, in contrast this is where the real work begins and quite often it’s when the time we used to spend with our partner slips. Research has found that positive reassurance and task sharing activities were predictors of commitment and satisfaction in a relationship (Stafford & Canary, 1991). Here we can start to see that effective communication combined with spending time with your partner will lead to a successful relationship.
Communication is shaped by relational factors and context, both of which are associated with time and effort. It is with these factors that we can communicate effectively in our relationships allowing us to fulfil our basic human need of affection, whilst also allowing us to attain our personal goals of long lasting successful relationships.
A psychological experiment combined both daily involvement and longitudinal studies and looked at the perceived investments in relationships. What was found supported the premise that investment, with regard to time, from one partner encouraged the other partner to further commit to the relationship. These effects held even for individuals who were comparatively less satisfied with their relationships. Together, these results suggest that people feel particularly grateful for partners who have invested into the relationship, which, in turn, motivates them to further commit to the relationship.
It therefore pays off to continue spending the time needed to ensure your partner feels a sense of investment and effort from you. It can be easy to forget that we often neglect those we love the most when we are busy and stressed, as usually they are the most understanding. However this form of behaviour and understanding can only last so long and research has shown that greater commitment is found in relationships whereby your partner feels invested in. So if you feel as though you have put your relationship on the back burner or are wondering why you can’t keep hold of a relationship, ask yourself, are you making the time to make it work?
Stafford, L., & Canary, D. J. (1991). Maintenance strategies and romantic relationship type, gender and relational characteristics. Journal of Social and Personal relationships, 8(2), 217-242.
Guerrero, L. K., Andersen, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2013). Close encounters: Communication in relationships. Sage Publications.