An “attitude of gratitude” is more than just a catchy phrase when it comes to your relationship.
In studies conducted out of Florida State University, psychology researcher Nathaniel Lambert has found that expressing appreciation to a spouse increases one’s dedication to that spouse’s well-being. Although how and why this occurs isn’t fully understood, Lambert speculates that voicing thanks or gratitude focuses our thoughts on a partner’s positive traits, which in turn influences us to regard him or her more favorably.
Once we view a partner more favorably, we’re more willing to put effort into the relationship, and we hold a more positive opinion of the relationship we’re in.
“In relationships today,” Lambert writes, “we often get mired down into what a partner isn’t doing for us. That’s one of the neat things about gratitude. It potentially can change the trajectory [of the relationship] from a negative focus to a more positive one.”
So take a lesson from Hollywood’s Oscar winners and be generous with your thanks and appreciation — especially for those things our partners do that we tend to take for granted.
- “Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family.”
- “Thank you for taking the kids to the doctor today.”
- “Thank you for trying to buy the ice cream that I like, even though you couldn’t find it.”
- “Thank you for ordering dinner for us this evening — I was too tired to deal with it.”
Commit to increasing your expressions of gratitude, even if you’re not receiving similar expressions from your partner. Don’t wait for them to get on board; they’ll likely be influenced by your example. And don’t be surprised if your partnership feels so much the stronger for it.
For more expert tips from The Family Institute, visit our tips page.
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