Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Does this sound like something that happening in your marriage? People like to say they appreciate all that you do, but does their behavior match the words? Are you truly grateful for your spouse? At the same time, on a more complex level, gratitude is a spiritual way of being.
When we truly feel gratitude, we experience heartfelt warmth and appreciation for the goodness of something outside ourselves. Having gratitude towards someone or something means respecting its value and treasuring how unique, beautiful, or indispensable it is. As marriages move past the honeymoon stage, couples go from appreciating and loving every little detail about each other to taking each other for granted.
Amie Gordon, a psychologist from U.C. Berkeley, blames this for the downfall of many relationships: “You get used to having [your spouse] in your life and forget why you chose to be with them.” We become deadened to our spouse’s special qualities and instead focus on things that annoy us about them. You may not agree with that and if not, what would your reasoning be for the apparent loss of interest from you your spouse may be feeling right now.
“Psychologytoday” stated this “Dr. Gordon’s study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explores the role of gratitude and appreciation in maintaining long and healthy relationships. In the study, 50 committed couples were given a week to fill out appreciation journals. On days when one partner reported feeling more appreciated, he or she tended to appreciate his or her partner more the next day.
“Couples who had ongoing reciprocal appreciation were less likely to break up in the next nine months and even reported being more committed at the end of that time. The researchers concluded that a nourishing cycle of encouragement and appreciation provides extra incentive to maintain our relationships. In other words, when we appreciate our partners, we develop trust and respect. When we feel appreciated, we feel needed and encouraged.”
Does this sound encouraging to you? If we show a little love, respect and appreciation toward each other why wouldn’t things go smoother in marriages today? The key to sparking healthy relationships with gratitude is to take the initiative, “Instead of just waiting for the other person to make you feel good, you can jumpstart that cycle and take it into your own hands by focusing on what’s good in your relationship,” says Dr. Gordon.
That sounds like words of wisdom to me; maybe we should all try it. Marriage affords endless opportunities to practice loving. But because the intimacy of the relationship also reveals personal flaws, (the other’s and our own), we can slip into negativity, forgetting what it was like to initially fall in love, and what it is now to live in love. The virtue of gratitude can help us remember.
Gratitude leads to many other “virtues” like laughter and fun, compassion and mercy. In addition to highlighting the gifts of our marriage partner, examining each other will also uncover our propensity to magnify small failings, our own and others. The effect of practicing gratitude in marriage has the effect of shifting our perspective, enlarging our horizons, and deepening our love for our spouse.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded of the importance of being thankful and grateful. Also, many people focus on what they do not have in their relationships versus what they do have. Why is it so hard for us to practice an attitude of gratitude and positivity—especially in our marriages? What is the, if she won’t than I won’t game, really getting you…besides more misery.
More articles on marriage: http://ventwing.com/marriage-in-wichita-falls/jack-lopez