Does Showing Gratitude Have Any Impact on Your Relationship?
Gratitude towards your partner affects the longevity of your relationship.
Posted Nov 13, 2015
Here’s an interesting finding from a University of Georgia study that I think is important for couples who hope to strengthen their relationship, rather than see it unravel towards separation and divorce. It’s also important information about what builds sustaining, positive relationships in general.
The study found that feeling appreciated and valued by your partner tends to strengthen your marriage or committed relationship, and it increases your belief about how enduring your relationship will be, over time.
Published in the journal Personal Relationships, the research was based on surveys of 468 married couples. Its core finding was that a partner’s expression of gratitude was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality.
“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,'” said the study’s lead author Allen Barton. “Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.” Added co-author Ted Futris, “…when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability,”
The study also found that higher levels of gratitude towards your partner protected men’s and women’s divorce proneness from the negative effects of poor communication during conflict. According to Barton, “This is the first study to document the protective effect that feeling appreciated by your spouse can have for marriages. It highlights a practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage, particularly if they are not the most adept communicators in conflict.”
That’s useful information. In my view, it links with other ways that couples relate to each other in relationships that sustain emotional, sexual and spiritual connection. For example, what I’ve described in another article about “radical transparency.” The study’s data are also useful about dealing with conflict, in the light of another study I described here, showing that women are more likely to initiate divorce when dissatisfied with the relationship, whereas husbands are more ok with just loping along, accepting it as it is. And you know where that’s likely to lead.
Although this latest research focused on marriage relationships, I think it highlights important information about what underlies positive relationships in general, whether they are intimate, work-related, and even those in broader societal contexts. That is, feeling and showing gratitude in relationships goes a long way in building and maintaining positive, mutually supportive connections. And the latter are crucial for both personal and societal wellbeing.
Progressive Impact - latest essays
©2015 Douglas LaBier