NEWSFLASH!!!! Expressing gratitude can help foster lasting relationships. OK, so that’s hardly a newsflash. No kidding, right? Of course it does. I am mentioning this because it gives me the chance to talk about the value of research in helping couples form satisfying and rewarding relationships. One clear benefit of research is that it often discovers things that we would never have predicted. Psychologists call these things counter-intuitive.
On June 5th we will have a longer blog post on gratitude (see it here). Recent research on gratitude shows that if I express gratitude to my partner, it is not just she that benefits. Of course, if we express gratitude to someone, they typically appreciate it. But recent research shows that expressing gratitude also affects the person doing the expressing. If I say thank you for a kind act, research suggests it influences the way I think about the relationship.
Expressing gratitude, in whatever form, changes the perception of the relationship. Though this is a little simplistic it works something like this: If I express gratitude, I hear myself do it, and the more I hear myself do it the more I come to think of my relationship as one that makes me feel grateful. And feeling grateful about a relationship is likely to lead to greater satisfaction.
Stay tuned for a longer post on gratitude.