Will the man or woman you are dating be equally supportive after marriage? The answer to that could make the difference in how satisfied you are after tying the knot.
Believing a partner is there to help you grow into the person you aspire to be predicted higher relationship satisfaction for both dating and married couples, a study conducted by Daniel Molden, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, showed.
But the belief that your partner helps you live up to your responsibilities and uphold your commitments only predicted higher relationship satisfaction after marriage.
For dating couples, the relationship itself tends to revolve around whether things are moving forward. Happiness with a partner depends on whether the relationship will grow into something more, whether a partner will support the dreams the other eventually hopes to achieve.
For married couples, the feeling that their partners are helping them to advance their relationships and realise their ideal achievements is still important.
But the relationships of married couples, now more interconnected both practically and psychologically, tend to revolve around upholding the commitment made to their partners.
Unlike dating couples, married couples also put a high premium on their partners' support of whatever they determine to be necessary obligations, said a Northwestern release.
"Those feelings may only partially capture the emotions that will determine your satisfaction with the person you marry," said Molden.
The study included 92 heterosexual dating couples and 77 married couples. They completed a battery of questionnaires that included an assessment of how much they thought their partner understood and supported both the hopes and responsibilities they had set for themselves.
These findings will be published in the July issue of Psychological Science.