Loving freedom: concerns with promotion or prevention and the role of autonomy in relationship well-being.
Two studies of romantic couples examined the circumstances under which complementary goal-pursuit strategies (specifically, the pairing of a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals eagerly with a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals vigilantly) lead to positive relationship outcomes. As hypothesized, couples who reported higher levels of goal congruence (Study 1) or greater self-other overlap (Study 2) benefited from complementary regulatory focus orientations. We suggest that such benefits stem from the advantages provided by the availability of both eager and vigilant strategic preferences, which allow complementary couples to “divide and conquer” goal pursuits as a unit so that both relationship partners can take on their preferred eager or vigilant strategic role. We further suggest that goal congruence is necessary to capitalize on these proposed advantages of complementary eager or vigilant goal-pursuit strategies.