Stay grateful—it’s good for your marriage.
According to research, gratitude is scientifically linked to improved physical and mental health, an increased ability to handle adversity, and stronger healthier relationships. One 2015 study published in Personal Relationships even found that gratitude can offer a protective effect against conflict and is a powerful predictor of marital quality.
The problem is, it’s easy to take your loved ones for granted. After all, it’s one thing to be actively ungrateful, thoughtless, or unkind toward your partner. But even in the absence of overt ingratitude, the simple failure to be consciously thankful can lead to a variety of challenges for a couple. These challenges may include:
- Build-up of resentment
- Increased stress
- Impaired communication
- Decreased resiliency in the face of challenges
- Decreased intimacy
- Increased conflict
The good news is, even if expressing gratitude isn’t second nature couples can learn how to do it more regularly. Keep reading for four simple ways to keep gratitude alive in your marriage.
4 Ways to Stay Grateful In Your Relationship
1. Use a journal to write down all the things your spouse does or says that bring a smile to your face.
Jot down a list of all the things you feel grateful for about your spouse and your marriage. These can be broad qualities as well as specific situations.
Be sure to include the little things, too—like the way your spouse cleans off your car for you on a snowy morning or squeezes your shoulder when they walk by you in the kitchen. The small moments are the ones we often overlook and forget about but can bring us so much joy when we reflect back on them later.
2. Schedule “gratitude sessions.”
Plan times to sit down with each other throughout the week specifically to talk about the things you’re thankful for. You can also work in moments of conscious gratitude into activities you already do together, such as walking the dog, eating dinner, or getting ready for bed.
3. Brag about your spouse to others.
How do you talk about your spouse to other people? How often do you say nice things or talk about things they’ve done that you appreciate or make you proud? Do you tend to criticize your spouse or vent about issues you’re having?
Have you ever noticed how often your friends or co-workers speak disparagingly about their own spouses?
Become more aware of the way you talk about your spouse and your marriage. If necessary, make an effort to speak more positively. When other people are criticizing their partners, don’t join in. When you focus on the good in your spouse and share these observations with your friends and family members, you prime yourself to notice even more good qualities in the future.
4. Do kind things for each other, just because.
To feel more gratitude, act with gratitude. To get more out of your relationship, put more into it. Make it a habit to do kind things for each other and express your appreciation for each other in a variety of ways. Write a heartfelt love letter, leave up notes around the house, prepare a special snack or dish, offer a back rub, take the kids out so your spouse can have a quiet day at the house to themselves.
It doesn’t take much to express and build gratitude within your marriage, and the benefits of doing so can be exponential.