For those feeling dissatisfied with a partner, saying "thank you" may improve your attitude about the relationship, new study findings suggest.
It turns out that expressed gratitude isn't just good for the recipient. It strengthens the relationship by causing the person expressing thanks to feel more responsible for their partner's welfare.
While previous research on gratitude has found that expressions of thanks strengthen a relationship by increasing satisfaction with it, the new research, published online recently in Psychological Science, looked at the effect of expressed gratitude on what psychologists call "communal strength" -- the degree of responsibility one partner or friend feels for another.
Gratitude, when expressed, boosted that communal strength, according to the study's lead author, Nathaniel Lambert, a research associate at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The finding makes sense because "when you express gratitude to someone, you are focusing on the good things that person has done for you," he said. "It makes you see them in a more positive light and helps you to focus in on their good traits."
Lambert and his research team tested the idea that expressing gratitude helps strengthen relationships in this way by doing three different studies.
In one study group, 137 college students completed a survey regarding how often they expressed gratitude to a friend or partner. Results showed that gratitude was positively linked with the person's perception of this "communal" strength.
In another study, involving 218 college students, expressing gratitude predicted boosts in the expresser's perception of the relationship's strength over time.
In a third study group, 75 men and women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Over a three-week period, one group expressed gratitude to a friend; another thought grateful thoughts about a friend, while a third thought about daily activities and a fourth had positive interactions with a friend.
Those who expressed gratitude reported more relationship strength at the study's end than did those in the other groups.
How gratitude enhances our relationship (and can enhance yours too)
- Gratitude infuses a relationship with positive energy. When we feel grateful for our lives, we tend to be more loving, thoughtful, compassionate, and supportive. Gratitude is a spark that lights many other warm and soothing fires.
- Gratitude makes the “bad” times less troubling. Even when we do hit rough patches in our relationship, our commitment to find things for which we are thankful helps to pull us out of the blues.
- Gratitude helps our love grow deeper. Along with our practice of giving thanks each evening, we verbally acknowledge each other (and then ourselves personally). Though we do have grievances with one another, our focus on what is working and what we’re truly grateful for helps strengthen our connection.
- Gratitude becomes a positive foundation for the rest of our lives. Since we focus our relationship on gratitude and what’s already working, we tend to carry that same outlook with us into our work, our play, and our other important relationships. Having a gratitude practice as a couple means that we both have the practice as individuals.
- Gratitude helps us keep the peace. It’s easy to get caught up in the ravenous energy of modern American culture and find ourselves yearning for more and better things. By noticing that which we are already so blessed to have, our cravings subside and we realize how happy, satisfied, and fulfilled we already are.
How Gratitude Can Make Your Relationship Flourish?
With relationships getting brittle, taking corrective measures seem to be unavoidable. According to a study, showing gratitude can enhance the bonding of a relationship. Gratitude needs to be shown not only on big things but also on regular day to day things because they matter the most.
The portrayal of gratitude, has the ability to add meaning to the lives of people and helps the relationship flourish.
To prove this, a study was done over sixty-five couples who were already in ongoing, satisfying and committed relationships.
The researchers tracked the day-to-day fluctuations in relationship satisfaction and connection for each member of the relationship.
It was noticed that everyday, ups and downs in relationship quality were reliably marked by one person's feelings of gratitude. The effects on the relationship, after feeling of gratitude was also noticed.
The research concluded that when in a relationship gratitude was expressed, it brought harmony and peace. Thus, everyday gratitude serves an important relationship maintenance mechanism in close relationships, acting as a booster shot to the relationship.
"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," lead author Dr. Sara Algoe said.
Gratitude is the acknowledgment of one's efforts. This acknowledgment assures the other that you have noticed her efforts and have respected it. All it brings is a smile on her face and nothing else can match it's beauty.
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