Knowing When to Assert Yourself Key to Successful Long-Term Relationships

by Chris Curley on August 6, 2012

While forgiveness is an essential part of many successful marriages and long-term relationships, sometimes what you really need is a little anger, new research indicates.

Earlier studies support the notion that couples who are more forgiving and understanding toward one another tend to be the most successful. But in some cases, holding onto anger — neither forgiving nor forgetting your partner’s transgression — is the only way to ensure your continued happiness as a couple, says James McNulty, Ph.D., of Florida State University.

Such exceptional cases may include when a partner has been financially irresponsible, unfaithful, or unsupportive, McNulty suggests.

“Believing a partner is forgiving leads agreeable people to be less likely to offend that partner and disagreeable people to be more likely to offend that partner,” he says.

In other words, being reasonable and forgiving is good, but don’t be a pushover.

Successful relationships tend be those where personalities balance each other out to find a middle ground. This is easier when you have a relationship where both partners desire open intimacy, reassurance and support, but less so when one partner has trouble expressing their desires and affections, says Paula Pietromonaco of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The research was presented on Aug. 2, 2012 at the American Psychological Association  annual convention in Orlando, Fla.

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