How do daily sacrifices impact your relationship?
In all couples, both partners need to make sacrifices to keep the happiness and peace in their relationships. This is normal and expected as everybody knows that all healthy relationships require work and effort. However, it is interesting to note that according to the Turkish psychologist Nazli Kayabol et al., there are two types of motives for sacrifices. The researchers recruited 110 couples who took part in a two-week diary study to analyze how their daily sacrifices impacted their relationships. The participants were asked if they had sacrificed something for their partner and what motivated them to do so. Taking this further, they had to choose between two motives: “To make my partner happy” or “To avoid feeling guilty”. Finally, the researchers examined how their sacrifices affected the overall satisfaction in their relationships.
What are the two different motives for sacrifices and how can they impact a relationship?
Kayabol et al. found that there are two different motives behind sacrifices: the approach motive and the avoidance motive. When using the approach motive, a person makes a sacrifice because they want to make their partner happy. Therefore, a sacrifice brought on by this motive is one that is beneficial to the overall wellbeing of a relationship. In contrast with this, if one uses the avoidance motive, their sacrifice is motivated by their desire to maintain peace and avoid feeling guilty. In other words, the sacrifice does not aim to make someone happy.
Although both motives lead to the same action, only one motive promotes happiness.
If your partner asked you to visit their parents for the weekend instead of having a relaxing time at home, you may agree and sacrifice your weekend. However, this sacrifice may be motivated by two different things. That is, you either want to make them happy (approach motive) or you do not want to feel bad (avoidance motive). If you sacrifice your weekend because you want to make your partner feel happy, you will convey this in your attitude. In other words, your mood will be better and you will likely be smiling or bubbly. On the other hand, if you decided to sacrifice your weekend because you did not want to hurt your partner’s feelings, this will also be reflected through your attitude; that is to say that you are likely to be in a bad mood and show that you did not actually want to spend your weekend away.
Your attitude can influence how your partner feels.
Kayabol et al. explain that ‘our attitudes about our behaviors are influenced by the motives we have for performing them, and these attitudes can affect our mood’. Furthermore, they hypothesize that even though your partner may not know the motive behind your sacrifice, their mood will be affected by yours. Therefore, if you are in a good mood, they will be influenced by this and will also feel happy. Subsequently, the overall satisfaction and happiness in the relationship will increase.
Ultimately, Kayabol et al.’s findings show that the attitude and motives which we have are more important than the sacrifices we make.