Jane wants Paul to shampoo the carpets. She knows it is a tough job and that he has procrastinated. She decides to do several nice things for him to motivate him to clean the carpeting. She makes him his favorite pie, she suggests he relax and watch Thursday night football and she is more affectionate and loving in general. Paul recognizes that he is receiving more that his usual share of “goodies” from his wife. Then he realizes why. On Friday she reminds him of the carpet-cleaning chore he has been putting off. Paul is now faced with a decision.
How should he respond? He is unlikely to be motivated by his wife if he believes he does not owe her anything in return for the goodies she has offered him. For instance he may feel he is finally receiving his due amount of appreciation for what he has already contributed to the relationship. Or he may feel that he contributes plenty through his effort on the job and through other chores.
On the other hand, Paul is more likely to be motivated by his Jane’s efforts if she appears to be acting out a gesture of goodwill. If he sees his wife as being kind, then he is more likely to be motivated to reciprocate. The husband will see this as a gesture of goodwill if he experiences the positive things his wife has done as part of a bigger pattern of giving. He will be motivated if he believes that she will continue to give to him in the future. In other words, the husband is likely to be motivated to clean the carpet if he believes that his effort will result in further rewards in the future and not as an effort to manipulate him to do an unpleasant task.
When you were dating, you had confidence in receiving rewards from your partner. These rewards took many forms. It was a pleasure to receive a compliment, a certain touch, a look of admiration, or a willingness to go the extra mile just to spend time together. When you gave to your partner, you had faith that you would receive as much as you gave.
Do you have faith that there are numerous rewards to be had from nurturing a relationship with your spouse?