Okay, so being nice to your partner is a given. But do you ever feel like you take their actions for granted? I love my husband, but occasionally I don’t pay attention to the things he does for me and forget to recognize those things. According to the science, this is not the way to do marriage. Research shows that expressing gratitude has a huge impact on your relationship. Feelings of gratitude make you feel more satisfied with your relationship (Algoe, Gable, & Maisel, 2010).
First off, what exactly is ‘gratitude’. It’s a word we use often enough, but what does it mean in this context? Gratitude has been defined as “an emotion or state resulting from an awareness and appreciation of that which is valuable and meaningful to oneself” (Lambert, Clark, Durtschi, Fincham, & Graham, 2010, p. 1). Basically, gratitude is being thankful for the things important to you.
To me, that means there are two ways to make my relationship a happier, healthier place. One: I can do things for Justin that are valuable or meaningful to him so that he feels gratitude. Two: I can work on my awareness of the things that are valuable or meaningful to me, especially when Justin did them for me.
Things that mean a lot to me aren’t necessarily the things that mean a lot to Justin. So I did the logical, and asked Justin. We’re currently working on lists for each other of things that we think are romantic and meaningful so we can create more gratitude in our relationship.
So far my list looks like this:
Give me a card or letter
Leave notes around the house
Candlelit picnic (even if in the yard!)
Make me breakfast before work
Make my coffee
There’s a range of big gestures that take some time and money and little things that you can do without much thought. John Gottman’s book, The Relationship Cure also has some great suggestions! I have loved using that book to create more intimacy and better communication between Justin and me. It’s like my relationship Bible!
I’m excited to see what Justin’s list has! I think it’ll be great for our relationship to add these little acts of kindness into our daily lives. And! knowing it’s something that the other wants and values is really cool. I’ll let y’all know how our little experiment goes!
(Penguins are my favorite animal. Justin arranged for us to get to go play with penguins in an exhibit! It was the sweetest thing ever!! And a great example of a big gesture that evokes gratitude!)
To see more research on how gratitude impacts your relationship and your life satisfaction send me an email!
Algoe, S. B., Gable, S. L., & Maisel, N. C. (2010). It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as
a booster shot for romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 17, 217-233.
Lambert, N. M., Clark, M. S., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits
of expressing gratitude: Expressing gratitude to a partner changes one’s view of the relationship.
Psychological Science, 21, 574-580. doi:10.1177/0956797610364003