How Gratitude Helps Couples Through Hardship
by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
Life can be hard. Certain aspects of marriage can be hard. And a little gratitude can make a huge difference is the solidity of a marriage.
Of course, it just makes sense that having an atmosphere of mutual gratitude and appreciation in a home fosters a happier and more stable family. There have been many studies that have shown that. A new study from University of Georgia has shown that a little gratitude can protect marriages from the toxic effects of conflict – particularly financial hardships.
Their results showed that that spousal gratitude was the most important predictor of marital quality (after controlling for varying levels of financial strain, negative communication patterns, and demographic makeup.
The research team also found that gratitude has protective effects—spouses who reported high levels of gratitude from their partner did not suffer any declines in marital stability (commitment and divorce proneness) that often result from poor communication patterns (such as demand/withdrawal interactions) during conflict.
“As long as they still felt appreciated by their spouse, their levels of marital stability were similar as those couples with more positive communication patterns.” Although all couples showed increases in demand/withdrawal behavior in the midst of financial strain, that poor communication was not associated with worse marital outcomes for couples that consistently expressed gratitude to each other.
Gratitude might have a Teflon-like effect on a marriage. “Gratitude can really help create an environment where negative events such as a financial hiccup or a work stress simply bounce off and don’t have the same negative effect.”
Additionally, gratitude might start a positive cycle of interactions: people who feel appreciated by their spouse are more likely to feel grateful, leading to a feedback loop of more positive behaviors and attitudes about the marriage.
All said, gratitude is a key factor in success in so many aspects of your life. Including your marriage. In these days before your marriage, hone that gratitude muscle – so that it becomes a habit, simply the way you see the world.
Consciously look to find something to be grateful for in at least one interaction during your day. And express it. Tell the other person how your life has been enriched because of them. “Thank you for thinking about me for this job. In this stressful time of job-seeking, it really feels good that someone is looking out for me.”