“Gratitude is the inward attitude of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
- Henry Van Dyke
“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value in your life.”
– Christiane Northrup
It’s that time of year, my dear and valued readers, when Thanksgiving, once again, is upon us – a day when the noble notion of gratitude feels just a little more within our grasp and available to us – maybe even more available than the rest of the year.
Gratitude, that warm feeling of appreciation, that humble acknowledgment of having received something precious and good from another, is now warmly wafting through the numbing November air. I can smell it, I can feel it, and well, I just have to write about it!
Thanksgiving, kindness, and gratitude are all part of the deep emotions most of us feel on this humble yet joyful holiday. We express gratitude for the “food we are about to receive,” the roof over our heads, our health, our family, and our friends. But do we really take the time to express all of this good stuff to our lovers or spouses?
Actually, seeing that I like to write about love relationships (especially the long-lasting kind), Thanksgiving gives me the perfect excuse to reflect on gratitude, not only gratitude for creature comforts and supportive families, but more specifically, about the opportunities to express kindness and gratitude to your partner.
So it’s probably no secret to you that “an attitude of gratitude” towards the one you love, will not only help you to connect in a deeper, more intimate way, but will also tend to keep your relationship going strong, as well.
In fact, there was a 2010 study conducted at the University of North Carolina which concluded that a little bit of gratitude towards a partner could engender happiness and actually strengthen the relationship.
Assistant Professor, Sara B. Algoe, observed 67 heterosexual couples (some married and some not), who had been intimately involved for at least 3 months, (together an average of 3.26 years), and asked some of the participants to keep journals. They were to record any kind gestures or acts of gratitude they may’ve experienced that day, including their emotional responses to those “generous happenings.”
Well, not surprisingly, they found that relationship satisfaction increased “tenfold” when gratitude was freely expressed (without a sense of indebtedness or obligation), and then duly noted by these participants.
Algoe states this about gratitude:
“Gratitude triggers a cascade of responses within the person who feels it in that very moment, changing the way the person views the generous benefactor, as well as motivations toward the benefactor. This is especially true when a person shows that they care about the partner’s needs and preferences. 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.”
So, there you have it: a study that seems to back up what most of us have already known – that expressed gratitude goes a long way to make love relationships stronger and last longer.
Is gratitude the antidote to relationship failure?
Now, if gratitude shown to your partner strengthens and brings more happiness into your relationship (not to mention a higher degree of mental and physical well-being), then couldn’t it also be said that taking your partner for granted would have the opposite effect – to weaken and tear down your relationship?
Well, that’s what Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. believes. In fact, through her own research, she concludes that if taking the other person for granted is the poison, then gratitude is the antidote to relationship break ups –well said!
First, Dr. Gordon begins with a definition: “Gratitude means thinking about all of your partner’s best traits and remembering why you got into a relationship with them in the first place.”
Then she goes on to describe how gratitude actually works for couples by presenting a cyclical sequence which looks like this:
Feel more grateful – work to hold onto your relationship.
Work to maintain relationship – partner feels more appreciated.
Partner feels more appreciated – partner more grateful.
Dr. Gordon sums it all up by saying that this initial gratitude can potentially turn into a positive succession of ongoing gratitude and generosity – nice, huh?
And isn’t Thanksgiving supposed to be just like that? We come together to the holiday table to express our thanks and gratitude which, in turn, heartens us to appreciate and hold onto to the people we love. Then we feel even more accepted and appreciated – which then naturally leads us to feel the warm feelings of gratitude all over again.
So, when you sit down to enjoy that sumptuous Thanksgiving fare, take a few moments to express your own feelings of gratitude to your partner. Better yet, why not show your gratitude, perform acts of generosity, and show appreciation to the one you love, on a daily basis – all year long?
Try it; you’ll both love it, and each other – more, and more, and more…
“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer
What are your favorite ways to show gratitude for your partner? I’d love to learn from you; please share your stories in the comments section below!