Gratitude is a key ingredient to any marriage, a new study finds.
Dr Ted Futris, one of the study’s authors, explained:
“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last.”
The conclusions come from a survey of 468 married people.
They were asked questions about their financial well-being, how they communicated and their expressions of gratitude.
Gratitude was consistently found to predict the quality of the marriage, said Dr Allen Barton:
“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you’.
Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”
The study found that gratitude protected couples from divorce and reduced the damaging effects of poor communication.
Demand/withdraw communication is one particularly negative form of interaction, Dr Barton explained:
“Demand/withdraw communication occurs when one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation.
Although wife demand/husband withdraw interactions appear more commonly in couples, in the current study we found financial distress was associated with lower marital outcomes through its effects on increasing the total amount of both partners’ demand/withdraw interactions.”
Dr Futris said:
“When couples are stressed about making ends meet, they are more likely to engage in negative ways–they are more critical of each other and defensive, and they can even stop engaging or withdraw from each other, which can then lead to lower marital quality.”
But gratitude helps, Dr Futris said:
“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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