What's Love Got to Do With It?

COMMITMENT

Ask your romantic partner, "Do you love me more than yesterday?" and a positive answer just might keep your relationship going--if you believe him.

A study conducted by Susan Sprecher, Ph.D., indicates that couples who think that love, satisfaction and commitment in their relationships have improved with age--even if they haven't--tend to have the most stable partnerships.

Sprecher, a psychology professor at Illinois State University, followed a group of college couples for five years and regularly gave them two questionnaires to complete: one asking how their feelings for their partner had changed since the last questionnaire, the other inquiring about their current feelings for each other.

The study's strongest pairs consistently reported that their love, commitment and satisfaction were increasing. But a comparison of their survey responses showed that only their commitment actually strengthened over time, while love and satisfaction with their partner changed little over the long haul.

Of course, many of Sprecher's couples fizzled out over the study's five-year span. These splitting pairs seemed to be just as much in love as they had ever been, a fact which Sprecher doesn't find surprising.

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"I think people can still feel love for an ex-partner while acknowledging that the relationship has become dissatisfying," she says.

Indeed, in couples who called it quits, satisfaction with the relationship dipped significantly in the period before the breakup.

The bottom line: love has remarkably little to do with whether your relationship is destined to last or headed for the hills, though believing that your affection is growing may help strengthen the bond. But if your partner starts singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" in the shower, begin to worry.

PHOTO (COLOR): A romantic partner

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