Open Gently

Musings on the introspective life.

Be Grateful For Your Honey

Contemplate a breakup or death, if it helps you appreciate your mate.

Are you grateful for your honey?

Cultivating feelings of gratitude for your partner—daily—will make you feel more satisfied, and that feeling can rub off on your honey, too.

Show your gratitude with lots of texts and emails and little pats and gestures, and figure out if you're meeting your partner's needs. Real needs, often expressed, that you may not think are so important.

But all that will be easier to do if you feel grateful inside. 

Our society talks about gratitude but in many ways discourages it. We're more focused on convincing ourselves that we'd be fine alone or on making our relationships better than they are. It's somehow embarrassing to say "My life is so much better because of you!"    

Every morning, the late Lee Lipsenthal, author of Enjoy Every Sandwich, meditated on the ways he loved his wife. He would open his arms and she'd roll over onto him and go back to sleep, while he focused on his love for her for 45 minutes! This wasn't a marriage without problems. At one point, he'd considered breaking it off. They turned it around. 

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You may resent that your partner isn't more grateful for you, or doesn't thank you enough. The remedy may be, surprisingly, to cultivate your own appreciation for the good stuff. 

The Stoic philosophers advised contemplating the death of your loved ones every morning. That isn't our style in these days when we act like we'll all live forever. But try it for a minute. What would your life be like without your husband? What would you miss?

In my own experience, gratitude is helpful even when your relationship has ended. 

I went to bed last Saturday night looking forward to a loving Sunday with my boyfriend. 

Then in the morning he broke things off.

Do I believe I could have kept us together by cultivating more gratitude? I don't know. But I find that being grateful to him now for what he gave me is more healing than focusing on his faults or being angry.   

Key References:

Gordon. Cameron L; Arnette, Robyn A.M; Smith, Rachel, E (2011). Have you thanked your spouse today?: Felt and expressed gratitude among married couples. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(3), 339-343.

Algoe, Sara, Shelly Gabel, and Natalya Maisel (2010). It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romanitc relationships. Personal Relationships, (17), 217-233.

Temma Ehrenfeld is a New York-based science writer, and former assistant editor at Newsweek.

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