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Do You Feel Appreciated by Your Partner?

Appreciation goes a long way in ensuring couples go the distance.

Key points

  • Feeling appreciated by one's partner is like "glue" that can help keep a relationship together during tough times.
  • People who experience a sense of appreciation from their partners are better able to navigate conflict and financial stressors.
  • Gratitude supports enhanced well-being and life satisfaction.

For many of us, just managing to balance our lives against the last three years of public health issues, political upheaval, and these forces’ collateral damage has been a “big win.” It’s important that we take time to recognize those “wins” in life and maybe take a moment to express our gratitude to the folks who helped us make it through as well as we did. If that person is your romantic partner, gratitude might be the glue that keeps you together when times get rough.

When someone makes us feel appreciated, it does a lot for our self-esteem, our self-confidence, and our self-appraisal. It feels good to have someone recognize us for the things we do. It also makes us feel good to express gratitude to another—when we do something to make another feel good, we, in turn, feel good about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we also tend to be more likable and that makes for better relationships with others. Understanding this connection between doing good, feeling good, and good relationships can be especially beneficial in romantic relationships.

Show Appreciation to Your Partner and Enjoy the Relational Benefits

In relationships, a recent study found that when we feel that our partners appreciate us, we feel more satisfied with the relationship, more hopeful about the future of the relationship, and we experience less instability and less concern about potential breakups (Barton et al., 2022).

Not only does the perception of gratitude from your partner lead to more satisfaction when it’s being felt, but it also provides relationship protection when things head south. Arguing ineffectively or coping with financial stress didn’t undo the positive effects of gratitude and the felt sense of appreciation. Feeling that your partner appreciates you—even when you’re not your best self—seems to positively affect relationship longevity. The authors noted that their study did not reveal a similar relationship between expressing gratitude and relationship satisfaction, however. Just as everyone has their own “language of love,” we might also have our own “language of appreciation.” While it is likely that more is required than just a perfunctory “Thank you” to your partner that creates the magic of perceived appreciation, that’s a good place to start.

Gratitude Lists

The practice of creating a “gratitude list” originated within the field of positive psychology a couple of decades ago (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). However, before you decide that gratitude lists are only for those new-age hippie types, let me share that a recent study with U.S. veterans supported the benefits of acknowledging gratitude (Umucu, 2022). They found that having a grateful mindset protected against depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even suicide.

It turns out that when we focus on positive things from the past, we are setting ourselves up for a happier and healthier state. Worrying about what went wrong—especially after everything is said and done and there are no do-overs—can wreak havoc on our emotional and physical well-being. Worrying about the future, rather than planning for the future, is just as bad. Mindfulness, which is basically just focusing on the moment at hand, is a practice that keeps us grounded and helps us minimize the negative effects of ruminating on the past or experiencing anxiety about the future. But if thoughts of the past bring up a sense of gratitude toward someone who helped you or eased your way in the past, use that mindful moment to reach out to that person and express your gratitude for their contribution to your well-being.

In summary, science shows that acknowledging and expressing gratitude can enhance the following:

  1. Better and more satisfying relationships
  2. Physical health
  3. Longevity
  4. Life satisfaction
  5. Subjective happiness
  6. Positive affect

Conversely, gratitude can minimize these concerns:

  1. Suicidal ideation
  2. Depression
  3. Negative affect
  4. Anxiety
  5. PTSD incidence

If you take time to train your brain to skip past the memories that only bring stress and hit pause at the memories that bring satisfaction and feelings of gratitude, you’re increasing the odds for a longer and happier life.


Barton, A. W., Jenkins, A. I. C., Gong, Q., Sutton, N. C., & Beach, S. R. H. (2022). The protective effects of perceived gratitude and expressed gratitude for relationship quality among African American couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 026540752211312 DOI: 10.1177/02654075221131288

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 84, 377–389. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377

Umucu, E., Lo, C., Lee, B. Vargas-Medrano, J., Diaz-Pacheco, V., Misra, K., Martin, S. L., Thompson, P. M., Gadad, B.S. (2022). Is Gratitude Associated With Suicidal Ideation in Veterans With Mental Illness and Student Veterans With PTSD Symptoms?. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 210(1), 26-31. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001406

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