It’s a common, even banal question, often asked and answered without much thought: “How was your day?” But a new study suggests that this simple question carries significant emotional benefits for both partners in a romantic relationship. Getting your partner to talk about his or her day, it seems, will not only make him or her feel better, but it will give you an emotional boost as well.

Researchers at the University of Utah asked 48 cohabiting romantic couples to report and rate the best event and the most stressful event of their day for 21 days straight. They also asked whether each partner told the other about these events.

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Participants reported better moods at the end of the days on which they had told their partner about a positive event. But on days when they disclosed stressful events, there was no significant increase in their levels of negative emotion, unless the event involved their partner.

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What’s more, the researchers found that on days when participants asked and were told about their partner’s day, their moods improved when they learned of positive events, especially if they were involved in their partner’s good piece of news. There were no significant increases in negative emotion after hearing about stressful events, unless the event involved the listener.

“Both positive and negative disclosures should be encouraged,” says Angela Hicks, one of the study’s authors, “as the negative disclosures do not seem to cause emotional harm, and both types of disclosures are likely to lead to greater feelings of intimacy and connectedness between relationship partners over time.”

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