In the 28th installment of SAGE‘s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Professor Harry Reis (University of Rochester) discusses how and why everyday acts of compassionate love benefit our relationships.
In collaboration with Michael Maniaci and Ronald Rogge (also of the Univ. of Rochester), the researchers asked 175 newlywed couples to complete daily diaries for a period of two weeks. In each daily diary participants reported on their own compassionate acts as well as their perception of their partners’ compassionate acts.
The team predicted that small daily acts of compassionate love would relate to greater satisfaction in the relationship, and that’s exactly what they found. However, the story gets even more interesting when you consider individuals’ perceptions of their partners’ acts. Specifically, acts that both partners recognized as compassionate more strongly influenced relationship satisfaction that did acts just recognized as compassionate by one partner alone.
Dr. Reis explains, “We define compassionate love as taking the other person’s needs into account, but doing so in a way that allows the other person to recognize it… Recognition is important.”
So it seems that while little everyday compassionate acts are important, taking the time to highlight each other’s’ small contributions is just as important for overall relationship satisfaction. Listen to the full podcast to learn more about this research and to hear some concrete relationship advice from Dr. Reis.