The Implications of Relational Activity Motivations for Relationship Well-Being and Daily Relational Functioning in Marriage
Gaine, Graham Sherwood
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People experience autonomy when they perceive their behaviour to be volitional and they feel controlled when their behaviour is driven by external demands or internal pressures. Gaine and La Guardia (2009) developed the Motivations for Relational Activities (MRA) scale to assess the extent to which romantic partners feel autonomous and controlled in a variety of specific relational activities. In a sample of mostly non-married individuals, Gaine and La Guardia (2009) found that the more willing and the less pressured individuals feel to engage in relational activities, the greater their relationship well-being. Study 1 examined whether autonomous and controlled activity motivations have similar implications for relationship well-being for married individuals. Results replicated the results from the non-married sample (Gaine & La Guardia, 2009). Study 2 assessed the relational activity motivation of both partners in married and common-law relationships and examined how one’s own motives relate to one’s own relationship well-being and one’s partner’s relationship well-being. Results suggested that one’s own motivations toward relational activities predict one’s own relationship well-being but not one’s partner’s well-being, with the exception of men’s relationship satisfaction, which was positively predicted by women’s autonomous activity motivation. Study 2 also employed daily diaries to examine the implications of each partner’s activity motivations for partners’ daily relational functioning and well-being. Results showed that when individuals are more willing and less pressured to engage in relational activities, they experience greater daily relationship well-being. Further, when individuals are more willing and less pressured in their relational activities, they are observed by their partner to be more engaged and responsive on a day-to-day basis. Finally, women’s willing engagement of relational activities emerged as a particularly important predictor of their own as well as men’s relational functioning and wellness.