Actually, it can:
In recent studies of heterosexual couples in their first few years of marriage, researchers learned that too much support is harder on a marriage than not enough. When it comes to marital satisfaction, both partners are happier if husbands receive the right type of support, and if wives ask for support when they need it.
The findings illustrate the need for couples to understand the various ways they can be supportive, and the importance of communicating what they need and when, said Erika Lawrence, associate professor of psychology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“The idea that simply being more supportive is better for your marriage is a myth,” Lawrence said. “Often husbands and wives think, ‘If my partner really knows me and loves me, he or she will know I’m upset and will know how to help me.’ However, that’s not the best way to approach your marriage. Your partner shouldn’t have to be a mind reader. Couples will be happier if they learn how to say, ‘This is how I’m feeling, and this is how you can help me.’”
In one study, Lawrence and colleagues discovered that receiving more support than desired is a greater risk factor for marital decline than not being there for a spouse…Results showed that too much informational support — usually in the form of unwanted advice-giving — is the most detrimental. In contrast, you can never go wrong providing esteem support, assuming it’s genuine.
If you’re interested in the science of how marriages work and how to make them better check out the work of John Gottman.
Have you had any experiences with too much or too little support? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments.