How Gratitude Strengthens Romantic Relationships
Gratitude is one of the best paths to happiness. A big reason why it makes us happy could be the fact that gratitude strengthens romantic relationships.
Psychologists have realized in the last decade how important relationships are to our health and happiness. But let’s take a closer look at gratitude’s role in boosting those relationships with those closest to our hearts.
Gratitude Boosts Relationship Satisfaction
One of the great things about being part of a couple is feeling growing close to someone. That feeling of closeness generates feelings of love, security, and intimacy.
A study in 2010 revealed how gratitude helps us to maintain that closeness, and even improve relationship satisfaction.
The researchers focused on people who were in committed relationships. The couples were required to write down their partners thoughtful actions, level of relationship satisfaction, and how close they felt to their significant other.
While every couple had ups and downs, researchers noticed a pattern. Using data from both partners, they found that expressions of gratitude could predict the upswings and downswings of relationship satisfaction.
And that boost in satisfaction was even present the following day.
Gratitude Benefits Both People
Here’s the great thing about gratitude. It can benefit both parties. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Sara Algoe, adds this:
Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about, and benefit to the one giving as well as the one on the receiving end.
Here’s where it gets interesting. There wasn’t a boost in satisfaction when a partner reported doing a thoughtful act. It was when one partner perceived a caring behavior and responded with an expression of gratitude.
Showing your partner that your grateful for the little things helps remind us of their good qualities. Gratitude strengthens romantic relationships, but it also helps us maintain that closeness. Even in good relationships.
The researchers also say that it may help foster a closer connections between couples who are experiencing problems. Their claim is actually backed up by other evidence which has shown that gratitude in marriage can be used to help overcome problems.
Dr. Algoe sums up the research by saying:
Gratitude triggers a cascade of responses within the person who feels it in that very moment, changing the way the person views the generous benefactor, as well as motivations toward the benefactor.
This is especially true when a person shows that they care about the partner’s needs and preferences.
Gratitude Helps Maintain Close Connections
However, they did note that gratitude isn’t the same as feeling indebted to another individual. Feeling indebted implies that the gesture or behavior has to be returned, and doesn’t show the same benefits as gratitude.
But it seems gratitude can create a positive, upward spiral of emotions between two people.
We may do a lot of thinking in our own heads. But if we can learn anything from the research, it’s this: Feeling grateful will make you happier. But expressing gratitude can benefit both people.
The little things count. And voicing your appreciation does far more than you realize.