Researchers asked 468 married individuals questions about their financial well-being, communication, and expressions of spousal gratitude. "The results indicated that spousal expression of gratitude was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality," say the study's authors.
"It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,'" says the study's lead author Allen Barton, a former doctoral student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. "Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes."
The research also showed that gratitude even managed to soften arguments. "Expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability," says the study's co-author Ted Futris, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
But it's often not easy to express gratitude in the midst of an argument.
Here are three ways you and your partner can remind each other of your mutual appreciation in the heat of the moment:
"All couples have disagreements and argue," Futris says. "And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don't is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis."
While a "thank you" might be the last thing on your mind sometimes, it can go a long way in keeping your relationship strong.
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