How often do you appreciate your partner? And why do we assume they know we value and love them? So often couples take each other for granted and neglect to express and show their appreciation for each other. We all need to feel appreciated, respected and loved, yet we often hurt the most those who are closest to us. A recent study from the University of Georgia published in the journal Personal Relationships found that feeling appreciated and valued in a marriage was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality. Spousal gratitude also protected divorce proneness as well as the negative effects from poor communication in times of conflict. Acknowledging the positive aspects of our spouse goes a long way.
So why don’t we appreciate our spouse more regularly? Some may say we are too busy and forget to make that extra effort to appreciate each other. Others would argue that we are too competitive, and self-absorbed with our own stuff to value others. Maybe we fear that if we acknowledge our spouse they will learn to expect it or take advantage of us in some way. Some may believe that appreciating our spouse increases our vulnerability and loss of control. Whatever reason you can identify with, it’s time to make a change.
Some people benefit from keeping a gratitude journal and write 2-3 things that they are grateful for everyday. We often focus on the negative aspects of life and the media reinforces this focus so consider redirecting your thoughts to positive experiences. Work on complimenting others more consistently, especially your spouse, and find value in other’s strengths. Maybe send an encouraging text, short email, or even hand write a card and send it snail mail. Gratefulness builds humility, connection, and respect in all relationships. As Thanksgiving approaches, be grateful for the people in your life and let them know it.