Simply saying ‘thank you’ to your partner can result in both a longer-lasting and more fulfilled relationship, according to a new study. While it may be common sense, it seems couples are taking the simple gratitude for granted, and are overlooking its many positive effects.
“Feeling appreciated by your partner influences how you act in your relationship, and how much you want to stay in that relationship,” the Daily Mail quoted study researcher Amie Gordon, of the University of California, Berkeley, as telling LiveScience.
The researchers examined 50 undergraduate participants who had been in relationships for about 15 months. They were asked to fill out a questionnaire nightly for one week about their relationship, and how appreciated they felt and how appreciative they were toward their partner.
Nine months later, the study participants were given another survey asking about their relationship.
On days when people reported feeling more appreciated, they were more likely to report feeling more appreciative of their partner the following day. The appreciated couples were also less likely to have broken up nine months later, and were actually more committed to each other.
“What goes wrong in a lot of relationships is if you start to take your partner for granted,” Gordon said. “Saying thank you helps you realize what you have, and makes you want to hold on to it. You get used to having them in your life and forget why you chose to be with them,” she added.
The researchers also examined couples aged 18-60, nearly half of them living together, and monitored their interactions with each other.
They coded how the couples interacted, including how often they touched each other, and made eye contact, and how engaged they were in their conversations. They discovered that the more often a participant acted in an understanding, validating and caring manner toward their partner, the more appreciated their partner felt, and the happier both were in the relationship.
Simple behavioral displays, such as leaning in to your partner when they are speaking, making eye contact, and giving comforting touches are important, but often overlooked, ways that people can show gratitude.
“The punch line is really that being appreciative of your partner is beneficial in helping you want to maintain your relationship,” she said. “When you are appreciative and you notice the value in your partner, it helps you realize what you have and makes you want to hold on to it. You have something good and you think, ‘I want to keep it’,” she added.