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A Thanksgiving Secret for A Successful Relationship




As you rush to make Thanksgiving dinner with friends or family, you may be

filled with resentment because your partner is late - again - or made some

insensitive remark about your family. Feeling grateful for them may be the last

thing on your mind. But what if all it took for your relationship to be stronger,

better and more satisfying - was a little more gratitude?

 

This may be hard to hear, but scientists have proof that expressing gratitude

improves relationships - for both the receiver and the one who expresses the

gratitude. One study by Sara Algoe and her colleagues at the University of North

Carolina described gratitude as a booster shot for relationships. They found that the

little things really make - or break - a relationship.

 

Maybe you are not convinced? Perhaps you think it takes a holiday in the Bahamas

or some diamond jewelry to put back the romance in your relationship. And while

such grand gestures might work on some level, they are costly and don’t really

address the root of the problem.

 

Which is?

 

Often, when couples come to my office for counseling, I realize that most of their

problems are caused simply by a lack of appreciation and gratitude. It can be little –

or not so little - things that go unnoticed, that result in people feeling taken for

granted and unappreciated.

 

During one of my sessions, a wife told me, “I work full time and then go shopping,

pick up the kids, make dinner and by the time he gets home, he just doesn’t see all

I’ve done and just sits at the table and eats. I need some acknowledgment!”

 

One husband said, “I moved to her hometown because she wanted to raise a family

near her parents. I left my job in a company full of possibilities. That was ten years

ago, but I never really felt appreciated for the sacrifice.”

 

Sometimes it can be difficult to feel gratitude when it seems you are doing all the

work in the relationship and you may think - why should I be the one saying thank

you? But according to Tara Fields, in her book The Love Fix, just by finding one nice

thing to say to your partner, you can grow closer and be more connected. It will

remind you of why you are with them in the first place and could reset your

relationship.

 

And if you really need another reason to be grateful - how about it being good for

your health too? Robert. A Emmons in his book Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program

for Creating Emotional Prosperity reveals that grateful people are happier and more

prosperous in their lives than those who are not.    

 

Wondering how you can express gratitude? Here are 4 ways to help you show

gratitude towards your partner:

 

1. Find one positive thing to say to your partner. But instead of only saying

“Thank you for bringing me coffee today”, say “Thank you for making the time

to bring me coffee, I know you have to get to work early.” By elaborating on

the thing you are grateful for, the benefit is actually increased, Emmons

revealed.

 

2. In an exercise created by the Gottman Institute, you have to find three

characteristics you appreciate about your partner (some of these are Loving,

Sensitive, Brave, Intelligent, Thoughtful, Generous, Loyal, Truthful, Strong,

Energetic, Sexy, Decisive etc.). Remember one incident in which they showed

those characteristics and share this with your partner.  

 

3. Write your partner a letter, thanking them for something they did or said. In a

similar exercise called the Gratitude Visit, created by Seligman, Steen, and

Peterson for a 2005 study, participants were allotted a period of one week to

compose and subsequently present a gratitude letter in person to someone

who had shown them exceptional kindness, but whom they had never

adequately thanked before. They showed higher levels of well-being even a

month after the event.

 

4. Take pictures for a week of something you are grateful for related to your

partner. My own research showed that people who took one to three pictures

a day for a week of things they were grateful for increased their feelings of

well-being. It could a pic of the dishwasher - because he remembered to pick

up the detergent. Or one of your partner playing with your child and having

fun. It doesn’t need to be a great picture but taken with a gratitude intention.

 

Not everyone can handle a compliment - or being thanked. Be patient with your

partner, and yourself. This may be new for you and your relationship. But by being

more positive in your attitude towards your partner, you may begin to set in motion a

sequence of more positive actions that benefit your relationship in a good way - as

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and husband and James O. Pawelski point out in their

book, Happy Together.

 

Don’t be derailed or discouraged by your partner’s response if it is negative. Simply

repeat your statement, let it sink in and take root. Do it again the next day, and the

next. You may be surprised to find your relationship beginning to grow in a different

direction, sprouting new buds and becoming as beautiful as it was in the beginning.

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