It turns out, the secret to wedded bliss isn't complicated. According to a new study published in the journal Personal Relationships, all it takes is expressing gratitude.
Researchers from the University of Georgia found that when spouses feel appreciated, it directly influences how they feel about their marriage and how committed they are to it.
The study authors polled 468 married individuals on relationship satisfaction through a telephone survey, asking them questions about their financial well-being, communication habits and expressions of thankfulness from their partner. After analyzing the data, researchers discovered that the biggest predictor of a positive marital bond was whether the individual felt valued and acknowledged by their significant other.
Higher levels of thankfulness in the relationship also seemed to reduce men and women's likelihood of divorce. The biggest indicator of marital unhappiness, according to the study, was financial distress.
"All couples have disagreements and argue," co-study author Ted Futris said in a press release. "And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don't is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis."
There has been plenty of research that suggests expressing thanks can boost an individual's health, but this study offers interesting insight into how gratitude benefits other people -- particularly in the context of a relationship. The authors found that gratitude in a marriage can also increase positive marital outcomes even when there's difficulty in other areas, like communication. In other words, it has a protective effect against challenges that can often tear couples apart.
We'd say that's something to feel thankful for.
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