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William and Kate 300

U researcher Maryhope Howland thinks the royal couple will do just fine.

Prince William has the makings of an excellent husband, U of M expert says

April 22, 2011

One week from today, Great Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton will wed in Westminster Abbey. The happy couple’s story has charmed the world, evoking a sense of old-world romance and true love. But what makes for a happy relationship once the honeymoon is over? A University of Minnesota relationships expert who can provide insight is:

Maryhope Howland, doctoral student and instructor, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

Howland thinks the royal couple will do just fine. “When watching the first official BBC interview with the couple, I noticed Prince William engaging in the very behavior I study -- invisible support,” Howland says. “The basic idea behind invisible support is that it’s support that is very subtle and flies under the radar -- so much so, that the person receiving it may not even realize that they’re being supported. It doesn’t look or feel like one person providing support to another person. It’s more like the supporter makes supportive information available to the supportee on the sly.”

Howland says the BBC interview provides a particularly revealing moment when the interviewer asks Middleton how she feels about filling Princess Diana’s shoes. “After Kate does her best with the stressful question, William 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,” Howland says. “This is invisible support because he 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.”

Howland says this kind of support is associated with reduced anxiety, sadness and anger and an increased sense of competence in couples. For a video of Howland discussing her invisible support research, visit

Howland frequently writes about how psychological research relates to everyday relationships on the blog "Science of Relationships," She is currently working on her doctorate in social psychology, with a minor in interpersonal relationships.

To interview Howland, contact Jeff Falk at (612) 626-1720 or

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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