They say the most valuable words in a successful marriage are, “I’ll do the dishes”. But new research suggests the most important words are actually, “Thank you”.
If you suspect your partner feels they’re being taken for granted, or not receiving the gratitude they deserve, there’s science to say you should act. A new study suggests that adopting an attitude of gratitude creates more stable and long-lasting relationships. Whether it’s by doing more chores about the house or giving voice to your appreciation, gestures or words conveying gratitude can be all it takes to lift her spirits – and save your sacred union.
Gratitude has become something of a trend in recent years. Belief in the power of ‘thank you’ has inspired many couples to express gratitude to each other for the performance of mundane tasks in the hope it will act like relationship glue.
While most relationship therapists wouldn’t attribute a healthy marriage to something so simple, a new body of evidence shows that feeling appreciated can protect couples from break-up-inducing stressors like financial problems, job instability and recurring arguments.
A research team from the University of Illinois examined the effect of expressed and perceived gratitude in both married and unmarried couples over a 15-month period. Participants were surveyed throughout the study on relationship satisfaction and stability.
“Our main hypothesis was that perceived gratitude from one’s partner would have what we call stress-buffering effects,” researcher Allen W. Barton said. That hypothesis was proven correct: gratitude protects against argument-triggering stressors, and couples with more gratitude felt more satisfied with their relationship.
Being thankful won’t just get you in your partner’s good books in the short term. The study found that perceived background gratitude had long-lasting effects. “The protective effect of perceived gratitude applied both in the moment and across time,” Barton said. He added that you should “make compliments that are sincere and genuine. And ask your partner if there are any areas in which they feel their efforts aren’t being appreciated or acknowledged and start expressing appreciation for those.”
What he didn’t say, but could have, is the age-old mantra: happy wife, happy life. It’s lasted this long for good reason: it works.
Honey, thanks for…
Keep your eyes open, and you’ll likely see multiple chances every day to express gratitude.
– Taking out the garbage
– Doing the dishes
– Feeding the kids
– Letting me pick the movie
– Putting up with me
– Just being you