Your spouse comes home at the same time every day. They greet you with the same kiss on the forehead. Their actions start to feel uncomfortably familiar, and life with them becomes…monotonous. Even though you swore it wouldn’t.
Gradually and naturally in your marriage, you start to take each other for granted.
It’s not ideal, but this usually happens even to the happiest of couples. All humans crave novelty in life, thanks to the happy hormones it releases in the brain. Regardless of how much you love your partner, they simply aren’t a novelty to you anymore.
So, Instead of showing gratitude in marriage and feeling appreciative of the person you’re with, you may do things out of tradition or obligation. You have to tell your spouse you love them before bed. You don’t want to, but you have to. Because, as a good partner, it’s what’s expected of you.
But what if we told you that it’s possible to rekindle that novelty between you two – not by falling prey to societal expectations, but by practicing something as simple as gratitude?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, know how to show your gratitude to your spouse better.
Why Being Thankful Is Important in Marriages and Relationships
There’s a study that has linked feelings like gratitude and appreciation to longer, healthier relationships. This study states that “Couples who had ongoing reciprocal appreciation were less likely to break up in the next nine months and even reported being more committed at the end of that time.”
Moreover, one partner tended to value their partner more after feeling appreciated.
It may seem obvious, but gratitude goes a long way. As time wears relationships out, we may feel like the other person already knows that we appreciate them. We married them, didn’t we? Isn’t that enough appreciation?
Yet, that isn’t always obvious. Especially after years of marriage, it’s essential to remind them that your love still lingers. Your spouse isn’t a mind reader, you can only prove your words through actions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the benefits gratitude can bring into your life.
3 Benefits of Showing Gratitude to Your Partner
There are a lot of benefits linked to showing gratitude in marriage and appreciation to your partner. If you’re trying hard to see those, here are the most common.
1. It Helps Rekindle Your Affection for Each Other
Marriage is synonymous with affection. With gratitude, both of you can better understand that you got married for a reason – or rather, several reasons. If you’re willing to drop the belief that it “gets harder as the years go by” and fight to make things right, this mindset could save your marriage.
2. It Fosters Healthier Arguments
Healthy arguments are defined by mutual listening. That doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with everything your partner says, but rather discussing problems in a reciprocal manner. You’ll know a conversation is useful when both of you listen intently and show consideration for what the other person has to say.
3. It Will Help You in Your Other Relationships
Gratitude is universal. When you get better at showing gratitude to your partner, you’ll get better at doing the same for all the people in your life. It will make a positive difference in the way you talk to, listen to, and see other individuals. Your focus will shift from trying to win arguments to empathizing with people – which is the real prize.
Ways to Show Your Gratitude to Your Partner This Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is the best time to show appreciation to your spouse and gratitude in your marriage. However, for a happier and healthier marriage, know that showing gratitude to your spouse is not a once-a-year thing. Every person, especially your spouse, deserves your love and appreciation, Thanksgiving or not.
Here are the best ways you can get a headstart:
Use Gottman’s Magic 5:1 Ratio
Doctors John Gottman, Ph.D., and Robert Levenson, Ph.D. owe plenty of salvaged relationships to what they call the magic 5:1 ratio.
In essence, the magic 5:1 ratio involves working on 5 positive interactions after 1 negative situation. Examples of positive interactions include laughter, physical touch, playfulness, and acts of service (such as doing the dishes). Of course, such interactions don’t have to be done consecutively, but over the course of a few days after a disagreement.
This technique works since most unhappy couples tend to give each other a token of their ingratitude. You know, things like silent treatments and passive-aggressiveness. Happier couples, on the other hand, are mature enough to counteract bad moods with loving attitudes.
Say “Thank You” and “Sorry” More Often
A very common argument topic revolves around someone never saying “thank you” or apologizing. These three little words make a huge difference when it comes to showing gratitude.
When you’re mad at someone, notice how hearing them say a genuine “I’m sorry” tends to soften you. You may even rethink why you were mad at them in the first place. The same goes to an honest “thank you.”
Understandably, both require rising above your pride and acknowledging the other person’s feelings. If you aren’t used to saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it, try something like “forgive me.” Instead of “thank you,” try something like “I appreciate your help.”
Helping Do Chores Without Them Having to Ask You
If your partner is doing most of the chores around the house, that’ll leave them stressed out and exhausted, and they most likely will complain. As a result, it will strain your relationship in the long term.
So why not do the dishes, cook dinner, or take out the trash for them? It’s a great way to show your appreciation without saying a word. If they aren’t talking to you or vice-versa, you’ll still be saying something: “I did this because I still care.”
This way, you’ll relieve a lot of the tension they may have taken out on you. And in the end, doing chores is something that will benefit both of you.
Make Them Feel Heard
Sometimes, trying to talk things out feels like screaming into a ghost town. No matter how straightforward and open you are, the other person just doesn’t seem to listen.
Other times, it can be downright impossible to get your point across. This is particularly true when a partner tends to scream, gesticulate, and point fingers when arguing. It just proves they’re far more focused on being right than on solving the problem.
When you’re mad to the point of screaming, it’s easy to ignore someone’s feelings and needs – even if unintentionally.
You can change that by training yourself to sit down and listen, and to show your partner that you are listening as well.
In the same study, they found out that “highly appreciative” couples “tended to use body language and response skills to show that they valued their spouses.”
Besides, “when their partner spoke, appreciative spouses leaned in, made eye contact, and responded thoughtfully to what they were saying.”
So don’t tell them you care. Show them, instead. Make eye contact and hold their hand. Above all, do your best to actively listen to them. If you love your spouse, you’ll strive to better understand why they’re feeling that way and ask how you can do better next time.
Remember Why You Chose Them
The longer you’re married, the more comfortable you become with each other. This level of familiarity can cause you to not see certain things the same way, which can lead to a lot of arguments. Turn this around by reminding yourself all the great things about your partner.
You married him/her for a reason, and that reason is enough for you to commit yourself to live and love that person for the rest of your life. You may fail to see your partner in a new light at times, but instead of focusing on these bad things, you can think of a different ways you can re-ignite that old flame back.
If you want to rekindle the fire your marriage, you’ll understand the importance of taking a few minutes to think about the bright side of your relationship. Does she make you laugh uncontrollably? Do you love the way he smiles? Do you guys have a unique sense of humor? Give it some thought.
While your pride may tell you otherwise, you can be the one to kickstart a chain of gratitude and love. Don’t wait for a cue. Even if it feels hard on your ego, be the first to do it. But do it intentionally.
Showing Gratitude Is Key To A Healthier Marriage
Know that showing gratitude won’t always be easy, especially when one or both of you aren’t used to it. As with every skill, you should practice gratitude and get better at it every day.
Granted, some people will think gratitude a waste of time. No matter how hard you try, they might never reciprocate your appreciation.
If you think you’re lacking gratitude and appreciation in your marriage, there are ways you can do something about it. Our relationship experts will be more than happy to talk to you about it. Celebrate Thanksgiving with a thankful heart and a happy, healthier marriage.