London - Giving your partner the "silent treatment" could keep a relationship going.
Psychologists say their research shows the strategy works – depending on your salary level. It is best for those on below-average earnings but counter productive for those on higher salaries.
Lead author Jaclyn Ross, of the University of California in Los Angeles, said: "Consider this example. A wife requests her husband ask for a raise at work. For a husband in a low-wage job with less job security, that is a risky proposition.
"By showing reluctance to ask for the raise, he can preserve his self-esteem and lessen emphasis on the couple’s vulnerable financial situation. For a wealthier couple in the same situation, the wife may perceive the husband is unwilling to make a sacrifice for his family and that can cause friction in the relationship."
The researchers based their conclusions on experiments involving almost 1 000 couples.
The results – published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – could help counsellors who work with couples in therapy and policymakers focused on marriage and family. Miss Ross said: "Life circumstances may matter for relationships far more than we think."
Previous research, however, has linked the "cold shoulder" approach to less intimacy and poorer health.