Spouses who use such strategies, called Partner-Oriented Self Regulation (POSR), tend to agree with statements such as "'I stay strong for my partner,' 'I hide my feelings for the sake of my partner,' or 'I try to spare my partner's feelings.'" Researcher Margaret Stroebe says the strategies are counter-productive:
"While parents seek to protect their partners through POSR, this effort has the opposite effect, and it is associated with worse adjustment over time. Surprisingly, our results suggest hat POSR has costs, not benefits, and not only for the partner but also for the self."
"Scientific literature [has primarily] focused on individual rather than interdependent processes in coping with bereavement, despite the fact that bereaved people do not grieve alone and the way one person grieves likely influences another."The research shows that "exerting excessive efforts to contain our emotions and regulate our feelings, thoughts, and behavior exact important interpersonal and individual costs."
Like a muscle that becomes exhausted after exertion, too much self-regulation actually depletes our ability to self-regulate in various domains including physical health and goal accomplishment.Stroebe says that those who work with bereaved people might try, in situations where it is appropriate, to guide bereaved people "'away from POSR and toward sharing their grief, thereby easing their suffering.'"