Seeing Strengths Helps Relationships

Olivia Glaser

Lavy, Shiri. My Better Half: Strengths Endorsement and Deployment in Married Couples. Journal of Family Issues Volume: 37 Issue 12 (2016).

© Depositphotos.com/Maridav

How you see your partner is an important part of any successful relationship. A 2016 study from the University of Haifa was used to find out how married couples’ strengths affect their relationships. Researchers choose wisdom/knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence as the most important strengths a person could have.

Based on common knowledge that endorsing the strengths of a significant other usually has to do with how happy a relationship is, three theories were hypothesized about relationship satisfaction:

  • Hypothesis 1: Both partners’ endorsement of character strengths will be associated with their relationship satisfaction.
  • Hypothesis 2: How partners believe they and their partner use their strengths will be associated with relationship satisfaction.
  • Hypothesis 3: Idealization of partner’s character strengths will be associated with partners’ relationship satisfaction.

100 Israel married couples were studied. Partner idealization, use of strengths, and relationship satisfaction were assessed. Results from Hypothesis 1 indicated that if a person appreciated their partners strengths, they were very likely to report that they had a satisfying relationship. Results from Hypothesis 2 were similar, indicating that if a person believed their partner was using their strengths well, they were likely to note relationship satisfaction. Results from Hypothesis 3 indicated that when men idealized their wives, their wives self-reported lower strengths ratings. There were two different explanations for this, one being that the low strengths rating may reflect lower-self esteem, which could stem from relationship problems. The other explanation is that these men had unrealistically high evaluations of their wives.

Marriage is a central life domain for personal realization.

Even though idealization may not seem like the best thing in some scenarios, studies have shown that idealizing one’s partner makes relationships seem more stable, and “it also enhanced both partners appreciation for each other, and made it easier to deal with disagreements.”

Marriage is an important part of life for many people because when spouses believe in one another, it can lead to a sense of self-growth and fulfillment. Additionally, “marriage is a central life domain for personal realization” and this realization can translate into an ability to utilize one’s strengths to the best of their ability.

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