When encouraging married couples to express gratitude to one another, one or both of them often asks, “Why should I thank my spouse for something they should do anyway?” For one thing, because every thank you is a deposit in the Family Bank of Honor…and every deposit strengthens your marriage. For a second reason, read Why Thank Your Spouse for Doing Chores. And now, a 15-month study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers another compelling reason to express gratitude to your spouse. This study examined the impact of expressing gratitude and perceiving gratitude on a couple’s relationship. The couples were observed over a 15-month period and completed surveyed three times: once at the beginning of the 15 months, once at 8 months, and once at the end of the 15 months. Each survey gathered information about the couple’s level of arguing, conflict resolution, expressions of gratitude, perceived gratitude, and financial strain. Based on the surveys, the researchers shared several interesting findings.
- Individuals with higher levels of expressed and perceived gratitude were more satisfied with their relationship.
- Individuals with higher levels of expressed and perceived gratitude were also more confident in the future of their relationship.
- They also reported fewer discussions or even thoughts about breaking up.
- Higher levels of perceived gratitude buffered the individual and couple against the stress of financial strain and ineffective arguing. In other words, perceiving that your partner appreciates you (perceived gratitude) contributed to feeling less stressed about financial strain or ineffective arguing. (Expressed gratitude did not have this effect.)
In other words, if you want to maintain a high level of satisfaction in your marriage, express gratitude to your spouse AND recognize when they express gratitude to you. In fact, make the expression of gratitude a hallmark of your relationship, a daily practice of identifying opportunities to express gratitude and then doing so. Not only will this increase your marital satisfaction, it will also help you manage the stress of finances and disagreements more effectively. To put it simply…. “Why should I thank my spouse for something they should be doing anyway?” Because it makes for a happier, healthier, and more intimate marriage.