Maryhope Howland here-- graduate student relationships researcher at the University of Minnesota. I frequently write about how psychological research (relationships and otherwise) relates to my own life and the world around me on my blog, Science Gnome, and will be contributing some of those thoughts here.
Let’s be clear about something: I am definitely into the British Royals. It's likely that I will end up one of those unfortunate folks who collects Hello! magazine and newspapers from the day of the Royal Wedding. If money were no object I’d most certainly fly over and perch myself in some tree to watch the whole thing unfold.
So you can imagine my great joy when I noticed an example of my own research in the relationship between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
If you don’t want to watch the entire interview-- although I can’t possibly imagine why you wouldn’t-- skip to about 12:40, and watch as the interviewer asks Kate how she feels about filling Princess Diana’s shoes. After Kate does her best with the stressful question, Will steps in and first attributes an eloquent response to Kate and then assures the interviewer that she will do a great job in her role. This is invisible support because Will makes his feelings about Kate and his faith in her available to her without telling her directly, “You’ll be great.” Clearly, this pair is meant to be.
In my completely non-royal research I find that this kind of support is associated with reduced anxiety, sadness and anger and an increased sense of competence in couples. You can see me talking about that research in detail here.
1Howland, M. & Simpson, J. A. (2010). Getting in under the radar: A dyadic view of invisible support. Psychological Science, 21, 1878-1885.