There have been endless studies, conversations and speculation over the years as to what the secret formula is for a happy marriage.
Some say the secret lies in laughing together, others claim a good sex life is the key to passing through life with another. However, a recent study at Georgia University has declared the secret to maintaining a happy marriage is in having gratitude towards your partner.
In a study carried out with 468 married individuals, questions based on gratitude, finances, communication and other areas of speculation were asked. Their results showed that being grateful to a partner was one of the key aspects that people believed made their relationship work. Going deeper into the research, the study also found that saying “thank you” to your partner may help in future arguments as it lessened the damage caused. Gratitude, in particular, was measured by the level of which the individuals felt appreciated, valued and acknowledged by their spouse.
Associate professor at Georgia University, Ted Futris, commented on the effect negative emotions can have on a relationship.
“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability.”
The results of this study also agree with some previous studies on the same topic, such as the idea that money problems can cause conflict within a relationship as well as the demand/withdraw type of communication many couples experience. A demand/withdraw relationship is one where one individual may consistently demand, nag or criticize the other, whilst their partner avoids the confrontation instead of communicating what is going on within the relationship.
When couples are struggling to make ends meet or are experiencing stress in other areas of their life, they are often critical of one another, as well as emotionally negative. However, gratitude can interrupt this critically negative behaviour and cement the positive emotions back into the relationship.
Studies like this are beneficial to couples everywhere as they not only pinpoint some of the ways in which couples may be going wrong, but it also highlights ways in which couples can strengthen their marriage. Of course, there are other important aspects to relationships that keeps things healthy. This study and many others like it continue to point out the things you can be doing to strengthen yours and the reasons it might not be working as well as you had hoped.