Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 11-17-2018 Comments: 0
Relationships have to be nourished in order to succeed. One of the cornerstones of a good relationship is showing appreciation for your partner and recognizing the significant part they play in your life.
But let’s be honest – many times, we get complacent and take our partners for granted. Other times, we get frustrated and can’t see the good things. So how do you show gratitude on a regular basis, even when you aren’t feeling so grateful?
Relationships aren’t easy, but sometimes it’s tough to see the good parts when we are stewing in our own anger or frustration. This is why gratitude is such an important practice: no matter how long you’ve been together or how you might feel at this particular moment, it’s important to still take care of each other and nurture the relationship despite bumps in the road.
Psychologists have researched the impact of practicing gratitude in relationships and found that it promotes a “cycle of generosity,” according to researchers in Psychology Today. What this means is that when one partner shows appreciation, it causes the other partner to act in similar ways, and to want to hold onto the relationship. In other words, showing gratitude is mutually beneficial to both partners. Think about it: positive reinforcement is a better way to create healthy new habits, compared to shame or blame, which creates toxicity in any relationship. With this in mind, following are seven ways to show gratitude in your relationship:
Express thanks with specifics.
Instead of just saying “thank you” to your partner for something they did, why not be more specific about what you are grateful for? For example, “I love that you walk our dog every night no matter how tired you are,” or “thank you for making me coffee each morning while I get ready for work.” These are concrete examples that show you have been paying attention, and that you acknowledge your partner’s everyday efforts at making you happy.
Ask your partner how they like to be appreciated.
Expressions of gratitude may not always be obvious to your partner, as the book “The Five Love Languages” taught us. We all like to be noticed and cared for in different ways. If you don’t know how your partner craves your acknowledgment – whether it’s through actions, or physical touch, or by spending time together – it’s important to ask. Maybe you desire small acts of kindness but your partner wants to be hugged or kissed as an acknowledgment of effort. Knowing what love language they speak is an important part of showing gratitude effectively.
Listen with compassion.
Most of us want to be acknowledged and heard. This is the same when it comes to showing gratitude for your partner. Instead of just expressing your own grievances, how about sitting back and listening – truly listening – to your partner’s concerns, and what you could do differently. Instead of getting defensive, acknowledge your partner’s pain or frustration. Make a plan together to work on changing. When you show that you are truly listening, it makes all the difference in your relationship.
Do a chore you don’t normally like to do.
This is a simple reflection of gratitude. Instead of just dividing the household tasks nobody wants to do – try picking up the slack and stepping in to relieve your partner. If you hate doing laundry – try doing it one weekend to give your partner a break. Maybe he doesn’t like doing it either! It doesn’t matter what the task is – taking out trash, cooking, cleaning – try stepping in for your partner as a way of showing thanks.
Compliment your partner.
Who doesn’t like hearing good things about themselves? When two people are together, after a while you start overlooking their star qualities and taking them for granted. To shake yourself out of a funk, look at them anew – remember why you chose your partner in the first place! Compliment his good looks, her wicked sense of humor, his kindness, her vivaciousness. Those aspects that attracted you in the first place are still there – so it’s important to recognize and rekindle your love from time to time.
Surprise with a note or small gift.
There’s something to be said for loving handwritten notes! Try writing and leaving these notes in unexpected places around the house, tucked away in a work bag, or on the bathroom mirror for example. This small act of saying thank you in a concrete way is important in any relationship. If you’re not great with words, try buying a small gift that shows you know what your partner loves, whether it’s ordering a bar of her favorite soap or stocking the fridge with her go-to beverage. These small acts go a long way.
Spend quality time together.
Spending time together is so important – but it’s even more important to leave distractions behind. Put away your phones. Tune in to each other instead of the to-do list at work. Remember what it was like when you first started dating, how you wanted to get to know your partner, how you gave your undivided attention. There are always more things to learn about loved ones – so make the time and effort for your partner. It will be worth it.
Practice gratitude no matter what stage you are in your relationship. It makes a positive difference that will help cultivate more love and kindness between the two of you.