When was the last time you openly expressed gratitude in your relationship?
Yesterday, last week, last month even.
If you have to spend longer than a moment to think about it, this is probably an area where you can begin to actively put in some time and effort in expressing gratitude with your partner.
I get it’s probably not at the top of your list of priorities, there’s your work/life balance to consider, the everyday household tasks, trying to keep yourself healthy, maintain a social life, maybe you have kids, kids that are so young that all you are thinking about is getting a good nights sleep, never mind telling your wo(man) what a great job they’re doing.
I get it, life is busy and you’re juggling more than a handful of things at the moment.
That doesn’t mean your relationship should become neglected or forgotten about as a result.
Long lasting relationships do not occur without putting in some work and making a considered effort, even during those times when we are tired, stressed and time poor.
If anything, this is the time to become even more conscientious to the needs of your relationship. Not only will it benefit your partner and the relationship, but it will also help you to feel good about your relationship, meaning you are more content and satisfied in the relationship.
“It’s worth investing time and effort into your relationship
to maintain a loving bond, where you can really see
your relationship go from strength to strength.”
Why you need gratitude in relationships
It’s common to get into the mindset of “oh my partner already knows how I feel about them” but when it comes to relationships, it’s never a good idea to just work from assumption and assume that our partner feels loved, cared for and appreciated.
It is often in assumption where there are misunderstandings in communication and connection.
We are social beings and we all have needs within our relationships.
It’s really healthy and recommended to spend some time reflecting on what some of your needs are.
Once you do this, you are able to have an open dialogue with your partner to express what these needs are and you can both work towards getting them met.
This will increase your overall connection where you feel heard, valued and understood.
Expressing gratitude in your relationship is an important exercise in fostering a strong connection.
Connection within an intimate relationship is one of the most important aspects of having a happy home and a healthy functioning relationship.
Being in a loving environment is not only healthy for your relationship but it is also beneficial to your wellbeing, plus there is the added bonus that being in a healthy connected relationship can help you to live for longer.
When you also have the addition of children in the family, a further incentive is that your young ones will have a positive model of what a healthy relationship should look like.
This will give them a good grounding to create their own healthy relationships from a secure attachment base, by seeing what it looks like to be loved and express love.
“Nobody likes to feel undervalued or unappreciated”
There are so many reasons why it’s worth investing time and effort into your relationship to maintain a loving bond, where you can really see your relationship go from strength to strength.
It’s a common relationship tip that communication is the most important aspect of a relationship, and although it is really important, I often tell my couples when working together that it is actually the connection that holds the key to a strong and lasting relationship.
When you have connection, your relationship can withstand the disagreements, conflict and times where communication is lacking or difficult, especially during times where a lack of communication may be out of your control.
Connection can help withstand the times where you feel unheard or misunderstood and can provide the glue that holds the relationship together when hectic lifestyles get in the way.
Expressing gratitude to one another can be a really powerful way of regaining that connection and intimacy within the relationship.
Not only does gratitude enhance the relationship, but it brings you closer together.
You can really noticeably change how you respond and how you feel about one another for the better.
“..this doesn’t mean over the top sweeping gestures,
you don’t need a brand new car or a movie style
declaration of love a la Pretty Woman”
Gratitude and kindness
Self awareness is an important factor in identifying your own needs in the relationship, but what we are going to specifically address here, is how gratitude can really take the connection in your relationship to the next level.
Best of all, it’s free, you can do this even if you’re time poor and your partner will absolutely love that they are being recognised for all the helpful ways that they make your life just that little bit easier.
It can be really tempting to point out the other persons flaws and areas where you think they could and should be doing better.
Perhaps in certain areas you have a point, they don’t always think about you first and put your needs before theirs, but instead of constantly criticising your partner for the things that they do wrong, how do you imagine your relationship will change if you really start to show gratitude and an awareness of all the things that they get right.
Now, this doesn’t mean over the top sweeping gestures, you don’t need a brand new car or a movie style declaration of love a la Pretty Woman, but consider the ways your partner shows care towards you with some of the little things.
Like having your coffee ready for you in the morning just the way you like it, or running errands for your mother in law out of the goodness of their heart, or just sometimes saving you that last piece of chocolate or making sure you have a hot meal to come home to at the end of a long day.
Some of these gestures we get used to, and after the months pass and the years pass, we forget the kindness of the gesture because we have become so used to it, we become complacent, expectant even.
Nobody likes to feel undervalued or unappreciated, even you.
So instead of pointing out that they never listen to you properly, or the ways you feel they’ve let you down again, try refocusing on the positive aspects of their personality.
After all, you initially chose them as a mate for a reason.
How to practice gratitude in relationships
Think about some of the reasons why you might have fell in love with them in the first place.
Were you drawn to their confidence?
The way that they showed kindness to other people?
The way they show appreciation to their family?
Their sense of adventure?
These are all qualities that are probably still there, it just gets lost sometimes in the monotony of every day life.
We all become complacent and just start ticking along, but every now and then it’s good to shake things up with a relationship check-up or MOT.
When you practice gratitude in your relationship consistently, you will notice an improvement and may even get back some of that gratitude too.
You can start by keeping a journal and begin to write down 1-3 things you value and appreciate about your significant other, such as positive personality traits, things that they do well, or the kind and thoughtful things that they have done for you in the past.
This helps you to move away from being in a constant negative mind set about your partner, creating the space to be more open and receptive to more loving feelings.
Then you can try expressing gratitude with your partner for a week or even a month, and see how it positively impacts both you, your spouse and your relationship.
If you get stuck, try these sentence starters to give you some tips and ideas:
Thank you for xxxxx you saved me some time there and I really appreciate it.
That’s what I love about you…
I really appreciate it when you…
I am grateful for….
A simple thank you really goes a long way.
I’m Lizandra Leigertwood and I’m a relationship therapist in private practice. Located in St Albans, Hertfordshire, I help individuals and couples to improve their relationships with themselves and each other.
To work with me directly, send me an email to arrange your free telephone consultation.