There are so many things we take for granted every day. This can be especially true in relationships. We tend to get caught up in the day to day and forget to show gratitude for our partner. We probably think about it, but we likely aren’t showing it enough. Researcher Sara Algoe has found that couples that practice gratitude are more likely to have an enduring relationship. Research has shown that gratitude increases satisfaction and attachment leading to greater emotional connection between partners. So we know gratitude is highly beneficial, but how do we put it into practice? Here are some ideas for how to use it in your relationship:
1. Ask questions (& listen)! Sometimes we’re tired at the end of a long day and we don’t really have the energy to ask about our partner’s day. Do it anyways! Ask “How was your day?” and then follow up with more specific questions. “What was the best part of your day today? What was hard about today? What made you laugh today? What was interesting about your day?” More specific questions help us understand our partners better and show that we appreciate them and care.
2. Say thank you. This one sounds really easy. I’m not talking about thanking them for the mundane tasks they do, although that is important too. It’s nice to be thanked for doing the dishes or putting the kids to bed. But you can go further. Thank them for noticing you had a long day and did these things. You’re thanking them for caring and noticing, not just doing the task. This shows gratitude for who they are and how they show up.
3. Give compliments (generously). A compliment feels really nice. There are often many compliments early in a relationship and sometimes they dwindle as the relationship lengthens. A compliment is a very easy way to show your appreciation for your partner AND it’s a confidence booster.
4. Consider your partner’s love language. If you aren’t familiar with love languages, here’s a brief run down. We all prefer to give and receive love in different ways. You might feel appreciated when you’re thanked verbally, but your partner may not care as much about these words of affirmation. Your partner may love a hug after a long day, but you may feel more loved by your partner buying you flowers. Think about how your partner feels loved and use that to show gratitude, in a way that speaks to them. Be thoughtful about what makes your partner feel appreciated and loved.
Gratitude is all about showing appreciation and giving validation. If you start practicing gratitude, odds are your partner will catch on and it will become a natural part of your relationship. Look for opportunities to show gratitude and do it often. We all crave validation. It reminds you that you value your partner and it makes your partner feel values. Win-win. How can you show your partner gratitude today?
This blog post was written by Taylor Walker, Ed.S.