When talking to your friends about the key to a successful marriage, you may leave the conversation feeling overwhelmed and stressed, more convinced it’s sex, time spent or financial security that holds happy couples together. These issues are important and the couples themselves determine their importance, but the key to couples’ happiness may be something else. In fact, continued and new research is beginning to get more clear about what is and isn’t as important to martial success. One of the simplest identified, and something we can all do, is to show more gratitude toward our partner.
Experts agree that couples who are the most satisfied in their relationships list gratitude as being one of the most important factors to them. Researchers from the University of Georgia surveyed more than 460 married individuals and asked them numerous questions regarding their marriage; finances, children, how they communicate on a daily basis and how they express gratitude to their partner.
The results showed that no matter the condition of the other aspects surveyed, what mattered most to the marriage quality was how appreciated they felt by their partner. If they felt that their partner was grateful for them, the quality of their marriage was much stronger with communication depth and overall connection, no matter what their situation was at home. These couples were also less likely to divorce or look for attention elsewhere.
Below I’ve listed 20 ways to show your partner attention and appreciation. These 20 were selected among a survey I did asking couples what made them feel special and loved in their significant relationship. Before you spend money on new clothes, shiny toys or something that won’t bring lasting appreciation, try using these:
Saying great things about your spouse out loud to your friends or family (so your spouse can hear them).
Telling your spouse’s parents and family face-to-face or in a card how grateful you are for your spouse, their child.
Telling the kids how awesome their mom or dad (your spouse) is. This is a self-esteem booster for your kids too because they love when parents brag on their other parent.
Holding their hand or staying near them at work parties where they may not know people or feel comfortable.
Introducing your spouse right away when you notice or are noticed by someone that your spouse doesn’t know.
Cooking a special meal or taking your spouse out to celebrate an award or anything your partner may have achieved.
Going to the doctor or any health specialist with your partner if your partner is apprehensive about going alone.
Taking your partner’s side when they are being self-critical or hard on themselves.
Defending your partner in front of their friends, family and your family when these people are critical of them.
Being receptive and appreciative when your partner initiates sex or intimacy.
Random acts of kindness acted on by your spouse.
Always remembering your partner’s birthday, anniversary and holidays with a card or gift. These dates symbolize feeling special, and giving appreciation for your spouse on these days is magnified.
Touching is a wonderful way to let your partner know they are appreciated.
Putting gas in the car when you notice it’s empty, or doing your partner’s laundry when you know they’ve had a crazy week.
Waiting up for your partner’s safe return after a business trip shows them that they matter to you.
Never letting your partner go to work without saying goodbye, how much you will miss them, or making plans to see them after work. This is a little reassurance for your partner that they matter to you.
When you have an issue and you ask your partner’s opinion, this makes them feel appreciated.
Getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to make your partner a cup of coffee or tea makes them feel nurtured and appreciated.
Hugging your partner when they feel overwhelmed or down.
Listening to your partner and understanding them without advising them on what they should do.
You promised to love each other and love is a verb. Act on your promise with appreciation for your partner to keep your relationship strong.