Can saying ‘thank you’ save marriages?
Researchers from the University of Georgia asked nearly 500 married individuals questions about their finances, their communication with their spouse and expressions of spousal gratitude.
The results showed that the most consistent predictor of marital success was regularly expressing gratitude to one’s spouse. The study measured gratitude in terms of how much individuals felt appreciated and valued by their spouse and acknowledged when they did something nice for their spouse.
“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” study co-author Ted Futris said in a news release.
“Other research indicates that people of all ages who practice gratitude reap many social, psychological and physical benefits, with little effort,” says Dr. Woodburn.
“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,’” lead study author Allen Barton said. “Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”
Barton added that the study is the first to document the “protective effect” that spousal appreciation can have in marriages, offering a practical way for couples to strengthen their bond.
“We can cultivate gratitude, or a sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life, by practicing gratitude,” says Dr. Woodburn. “Simple strategies such as keeping a gratitude journal, writing a letter of thanks to someone, identifying a few good things in life each day and accepting affirmations from others can make a significant difference.”
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