How Gratitude Helps Maintain Loving Relationships
One of the most popular questions in relationship science is how to keep the passion alive with a long term, romantic partner. While the answer isn’t as simple as we’d prefer, research says that one piece of the puzzle is how gratitude helps maintain loving relationships.
Every couple goes through a natural honeymoon phase. But after the newness fades away, keeping that spark going takes appreciation for one’s partner. Not doing so can lead to a couple parting their separate ways.
Gratitude Helps Maintain Close Bonds
Anyone who’s realistic knows that keeping love going can take work. There are those that think passion should come naturally if you’re truly meant to be together. However, those same people have been found to have less satisfaction in the bedroom.
It’s not just intimacy that’s important, though. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that gratitude plays an important role in keeping a long term relationships healthy.
In a series of studies conducted by researcher Amie Gordon and her team, couples were given appreciation journals to write in over the course of a week. The couples were also observed in the lab to get a better objective look at their levels of appreciation.
They found that couples who had an ongoing appreciation for one another were less likely to break up nine months down the road. In fact, they were even more committed to one another than when the study started.
The authors of the study say the results are pretty clear cut:
These findings provide evidence that gratitude is important for the successful maintenance of intimate bonds.
Cycle of Appreciation
When researchers saw that when a partner reported feeling appreciated, their levels of appreciation for their partner increased the following day.
One could see how this would easily create an upward spiral of positive feelings between a couple. An effect that has been noted in other research showing that expressing gratitude can benefit both people in a romantic relationship.
The researchers argue that this cycle gives us the incentive to keep going in our relationships. Long after our initial honeymoon phase.
Appreciating your partner can build a foundation of trust and respect. It also helps us to feel needed and, in turn, we are more responsive to their needs as well.
Gratitude Powers Relationships
As you might expect, gratitude can also help couples get through rough patches. One study in particular looked at married couples who were experiencing problems. They found that gratitude was an integral part of helping them deal with negative communication behaviors.
But that doesn’t mean that we should only show appreciation for our love interest. Gratitude can be a boon to our social circle by encouraging friendships. It can also improve our physical health and advance our professional careers.
It truly spills over to so many different areas of our life. So if you don’t already practice gratitude, it’s worth taking a closer look.
But if you’re going to start somewhere, it might as well be with the one you love the most.