Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” We might show gratitude in many small ways, verbal or nonverbal. A verbal expression may look like an “I appreciate you,” while a nonverbal expression may be a hug or a shoulder rub. If you are like most people, you may not take notice of the tiny things that your partner does for you each day. Often, we take these things for granted and we do not take notice of them, but research shows that conscious gratitude plays a role in relationship quality.
Research shows that your feelings of gratitude increase after your partner shows a thoughtful gesture. This gratitude towards your partner then predicts an increase in your partner’s feelings of relationship quality. So basically, both men and women with grateful partners feel a stronger connection to their partner and also feel more satisfied with their relationship than they do when their partners are not grateful.
So how do you take notice of these moments? The good news for you is that gratitude doesn’t have to come from huge, sweeping gestures. It is the small gestures that mean the most and that can increase both you and your partner’s feelings of gratitude for one another. Simple interactions may make the difference in the daily lives of individuals in romantic relationships. Those simple gestures are where that gratitude lies, which can in turn grow the relationship further, creating a deeper bond. The key to this though, is that each partner has to be receptive to the gesture giving partner. There is a mindful awareness about having gratitude for your partner that must be present.
Research also shows that gestures when the partner is in need of help and when there is no need for assistance contribute to feelings of gratitude, and therefore higher relationship quality. Engaging in gratitude reminds us of those people who are there for us in both hard and good times, which increases the couple bond.
Taking the time to slow down and pay attention to the things that our partner is doing for us, no matter how small, may make quite a difference down the road. So today, take a second to think about the little things that your partner does for you and then take note of how that makes you feel towards them. If I had to guess, I think you will feel some level of gratefulness for them.
Algoe, S.B., Gable, S. L., Maisel, N. C. (2010). It’s The Little Things: Everyday Gratitude As A Booster Shot For Romantic Relationships. Personal Relationships, 17 (2), 217-233.