Back when you and your spouse started dating, he used to get up extra early to surprise you with your favorite egg and cheese bagel for breakfast and you couldn’t stop gushing about how awesome he was. But when he whipped up a bowl of oatmeal yesterday, you barely even acknowledged the gesture. Oops.
Being in a long-term relationship comes with a lot of positives. One of the downsides, however, is that you kind of start taking each other for granted. Not only is this Michelle Tanner-style rude, but it could also spell bad news for your relationship.
That’s per a paper published in the journal Personal Relationships that found that gratitude is key to a healthy and successful marriage. For the study, researchers asked 468 married people questions about their financial well-being, demand/withdraw communication (“when one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation”) and expressions of spousal gratitude. What they found was that expressions of gratitude were the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality.
“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,” said study co-author Ted Futris, an associate professor at the University of Georgia.
In fact, researchers argue that the simple act of saying “thank you” to your partner regularly can be powerful enough to protect a couple’s divorce proneness. Wowza.
Just a little something to keep in mind the next time your partner brings you coffee in bed.