The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found those on the receiving end of a partner's sacrifice did not report feeling more committed to their partner, perhaps because they were unaware their partner had done anything special for them.
Study leader Casey Totenhagen of the University of Arizona John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences said the study involved 164 couples, married and unmarried, whose relationships ranged in length from six months to 44 years.
Each of the 328 individuals was asked to fill out daily online surveys, over the course of seven days, indicating the daily sacrifices they made for their partner in 12 categories, such as child care, household tasks and amount of time spent with friends, among others.
They also were asked to report on the number of hassles they experienced that day. The participants then ranked, on a scale of 1-7, how committed they felt to their partners, how close they felt to their partners and how satisfied they felt with their relationship that day. Sacrifice was defined as a small change in daily routine to do something nice for a partner, Totenhagen explained.
The study found individuals who made sacrifices for their significant others generally felt more committed to their partners when they did nice things for them, but on days when they had experienced a lot of hassles, they did not feel more committed.
"If you've already had a really stressful day, and then you come home and you're sacrificing for your partner, it's just one more thing," Totenhagen said.