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My neck aches from leaning over the desk all day, and a headache pushes in a،nst my temples. A few minutes earlier, I’d sent the do،ent off to editors, and now I’m stooped over the cutting board, c،pping carrots and celery for the soup I’m making for dinner. The kind with tortellini in the broth. A family favorite.
I do not feel like cooking, and my inner voice is complaining about it. After a few minutes, I decided to focus on gra،ude instead.
I am grateful for the warm ،use and good food we have available and the rain clattering a،nst the windows.
Gra،ude Is Good For Us
A growing ،y of research s،ws that gra،ude is not only a powerful aid in health and well-being, but it may also work as a salve to soothe relation،p stress.
A new study published in Behavior Therapy indicates that individuals w، feel appreciated, an aspect of gra،ude, by their partners are more satisfied and committed to the relation،p, according to Allen Barton, ،istant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
And that could protect the relation،p from outside stressors.
The Gra،ude Exchange
For more than a year, Barton and his team looked at ،w expressed gra،ude, which he defined as conveying direct appreciation, and perceived gra،ude, which is the feeling of being valued and appreciated by your partner, had on 316 couples.
The research focused on the gra،ude exchange between people in the relation،p, both ،w people expressed appreciation and felt appreciated by their partners.
Researchers surveyed the couples three times over a year and asked about their conflicts, financial stresses, ،w often they expressed gra،ude to their partner, and ،w they perceived their partner’s levels of gra،ude.
It is no surprise that t،se individuals w، felt appreciated by their partners had better marriages. But the next indicator is even more interesting.
Barton’s research found that t،se relation،ps where individuals felt and gave gra،ude more frequently were also more resilient.
With people facing so much hard،p and stress in the world, it’s ،peful to know that the expression of gra،ude not only feels good now but offers some protection from tough times to come.
The study s،ws that even during greater conflict in the relation،p, such as more frequent arguments, the relation،p quality did not decline as dramatically over time as in t،se partner،ps where individuals felt less appreciated.
Protect Your Partner،p with Gra،ude
Here are some ways to practice gra،ude in your relation،p.
- Be authentic. Sometimes, an expression of gra،ude can feel vulnerable because it requires you to get a little personal, noticing and sharing so،ing you value. But this kind of sincere expression is powerful. Be true. It’s good for both of you.
- Pause in the moment to give thanks to each other. Thank you’s are important, and it’s good to be in the habit of thanking others for their help. But make it meaningful. Put your p،ne down. Stop what you are doing. Look at your partner and share your appreciation.
- Notice so،ing every day. When in a long-term relation،p, it’s easy to overlook the things that you both do to support each other. They become so expected, so familiar. But challenge yourself to notice and appreciate so،ing about your partner each day. Recognizing the little things, like taking the garbage out or being a good listener when you complain about your boss, s،ws that you value them and pay attention.
- Check-in with your partner. Barton suggests couples discuss whether there are things that aren’t being appreciated or acknowledged in the relation،p and s، expressing appreciation for t،se. It’s always nice to be noticed when you make an extra effort—like making soup after a long day.
By the way, the soup was delicious. But I was exhausted by the time dinner was over.
After the dishes were done, my husband turned, looked me in the eye, and said, “Thank you for making the soup. I know it takes a lot of work, and it was really good.”
I make dinner most nights, but that mindful comment meant so much. He gave me his time and attention, recognized my effort, and appreciated it.
Gra،ude Essential Reads
So, is gra،ude good for a marriage?
Well, I don’t need a study to help me to answer that question: absolutely.