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Does your relationship need spring cleaning?

Published February 20, 2017
Holding hands

URBANA, Ill. – Grand romantic gestures are the stuff of Hollywood movies, but romance is only one small part of how we should be working to maintain our relationships, says University of Illinois assistant professor of human development and family studies Brian Ogolsky. The researcher recently sat down to share the science of relationship maintenance during a Twitter chat in the #AskACES series, hosted by U of I’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Ogolsky started the chat off by defining relationship maintenance as “the thoughts and behaviors you use to keep your relationship in the state you want it to be in.”

Because 140 characters leaves a lot of room for interpretation, follow-up questions quickly poured in. Followers wanted strategies they could put into practice and Ogolsky obliged, with recommendations to engage in positive and open communication, to be responsive and supportive, to participate in joint leisure activity, and to be generous and thankful.

Ogolsky also explained the ways couples should think about adjusting their relationship maintenance strategies over time. Early on, he says, the emphasis is on mitigation of threats, such as alternative partners, while more established couples should put in time to “do the good,” rather than simply avoiding problems.

Chat participants wanted to know about the role of technology in relationships, how parenting affects relationship maintenance, and whether there is truth to the old adage that opposites attract.

Surprisingly, when it comes to avoiding break ups, Ogolsky says it’s not about being similar or putting down the phone during date night. The very best predictor of staying together, he explains, is feeling that you, your partner, and your relationship are better than everyone else’s. “In other words, be delusional,” he quips.

Search for #AskACES on Twitter to view the entire chat, and listen to Ogolsky delve a little deeper into his answers in an interview with #AskACES podcast host Jennifer Shike.