Don’t Forget the Secret Sauce
Many ingredients nurture a strong and healthy marriage: communication, time together, sharing emotions…the list goes on. But, the secret sauce of relationships, the ingredient that flows over it and adds extra flavor to the whole, is gratitude. Feeling appreciated by your spouse and appreciating your spouse forms a crucial ingredient to a healthy marriage. This truth became evident in a study that looked at the effectiveness of online relationship interventions. The primary finding revealed that online relationship interventions proved effective in building healthier marriages. Interestingly, the study also revealed that the couples reported improvement in partner gratitude after the interventions, even though the interventions did not specifically address the issue of gratitude. It reinforced what many already know: in healthy marriages both spouses express gratitude to one another and both spouses feel appreciated by one another.
With that in mind, if you want to nurture a strong and healthy marriage, practice gratitude. Make an intentional effort to watch for opportunities to express gratitude to your spouse and for your spouse. You can express your gratitude for things they do, things they say, or for aspects of their character you enjoy (“Thank you for being so fun loving and laughing with me”). In fact, make it a point to express gratitude to your spouse and for your spouse every day.
Express your gratitude sincerely, voluntarily, not under compulsion. Gratitude expressed because “I have to” becomes insincere and ineffective. It becomes meaningless. So don’t slip into taking your spouse for granted. They do not “have to” do anything for you. Everything they do is an expression of love, a commitment to your life together. Recognize that and let your gratitude flow from a heart of thanksgiving.
Finally, be aware of your spouse’s expressions of gratitude for you and the things you do. That gratitude may come to you verbally or through actions, so keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t get caught up in a feeling of entitlement and miss your spouse’s expression of gratitude. Be open to hearing their gratitude. Accept their expressions of gratitude.
Expressing gratitude and receiving gratitude is like the secret sauce flowing over your marriage with added flavor and joy. Like all sauces, gratitude is best if you pour it on because the more the better.