Why Gratitude and Appreciation Are Central Keys to a Healthy Relationship
Ever since we were small, we’ve been fed the idea of “happily ever after”. Many Disney cartoons left us hoping to find that perfect relationship and live forever with the perfect partner, whom we could call our “prince or princess”. But as it turns out, there are more sad stories of heartbreaks than there are of ‘happily ever afters’. While some couples don’t make it past the dating stage, many people end up falling out of love, even after years of marriage.
With so many stories of breakups going around, there is only one question in our minds – why?
If you were able to look closely, you would discover that in most of these sad stories, there is one central theme: a lack of appreciation or taking one’s partner for granted. Just as Jackson Brown Jnr. puts it, “it’s the little things in life that matter the most. Appreciate what you have and be grateful.”
While some relationships start off on the wrong foot with a few red flags such as abuse, neglect, and poor communication, some relationships do start out healthy. They were filled with moments of sweet talks, long hours of cuddling, and many instances of being there for one another. Each partner cared about all the little things and recognized all the small gestures. But as time would have it, gratitude and appreciation started to dwindle. Partners began to expect more, and the little things were tossed aside as irrelevant.
Although expecting more from your partner happens naturally over time, that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating her/him. After all, it’s the little things that grow into big things.
Gratitude and Appreciation
Gratitude basically means acknowledging a gift or a positive effort from someone towards you. Appreciation is a synonym, expands things further – it’s the ability to understand the worth of something. Say, for instance, your partner gifts you a pair of earrings. Gratitude says you acknowledge the gift by receiving it, while appreciation says you offer a genuine smile and a nice comment concerning the gift. Combine the two, and you’d see that it’s not enough to just say “thank you”.
Effects of Gratitude on Your Relationship
The benefits of gratitude and a sense of appreciation are divided into two categories: emotional and physical.
In the emotional category, you’ll discover that gratitude and appreciation help to reinforce positive emotions such as happiness, joy, and an overall sense of fulfillment or pride in your partner. What’s more, you strengthen your emotional bonds. In a situation where you appreciate your partner or what he/she does, it makes your partner feel loved and happy. When your partner is happy, there’s a greater chance that you personally would be happy. After all, your relationship is all about your collective happiness.
Also, your acts or words of gratitude and appreciation strengthen your partner’s self-esteem. Just as a small child feels he can conquer the world because his parents are cheering him on, so too does your partner feel when you give him/her encouragement.
In the physical category, gratitude reinforces goodwill and positive actions. Your partner is more likely to do more things for you, just because you appreciate even their tiniest effort. Your simple “thanks babe” because he sorted the dishes is bound to positively drive him to do more – probably cook dinner while you’re out. Relationship partners are generally motivated to reciprocate a positive action or comment.
The combined effect of emotional and positive benefits of gratitude is bound to sustain the thrill and sense of fulfillment in your relationship. When you choose to appreciate your partner for who he/she is and for what he/she does, you encourage more positive responses. You both can enjoy a happy and healthy relationship that is truly sustainable.
How to Appreciate Your Partner More
In a relationship where you and your partner have gone past the early stages of “butterflies in your belly”, you’ll need to put in the effort in appreciating your partner. Rather than falling into a dry and loveless routine, you can set yourself up for a routine of appreciation.
Here are tips to try out:
Be Generous with Compliments
If there’s anyone you should compliment the most, it’s your partner. Compliment both major and minor things about her/him and watch how your relationship maintains its sparks. Whether your partner acknowledges your compliments or not, keep them rolling. It’s better you have a routine of positive compliments rather than a dry routine of little to no compliments. Try it for even just a few days and see the almost immediate change in their attitude toward you.
You shouldn’t feel shy about having a little show of affection in public. While certain displays of intimacy can go over the top, it is important to give your partner that reassurance in public. Holding your partner’s hand while walking, casually placing your arms around them, or even brushing back your partner’s hair—these small gestures of affection speak volumes of your bond and reinforce your commitment to staying close. Show the world how you feel about your partner and watch him/her pay you back in many ways.
Be Creative with Your “Thank You”
Gratitude starts from your words then flows into your actions. Don’t hesitate to say “thank you” even for the little things. Aside from your words, you could chip in gratitude via random acts such as an unexpected kiss or hug. Your “thank you” would hold more weight when it’s spiced with random acts of affection.
Cheer Them Publicly
While you can always cheer your partner privately, there are a lot more sparks to be added from cheering them publicly. A simple status update or Facebook post about them would go a long way in getting them to feel loved and appreciated – especially when it’s unexpected. Wouldn’t you just love that if he/she did it for you? Wouldn’t it make your day? Wouldn’t it inspire you to do a little something extra for him/her when you got home? It shouldn’t just be about birthdays and anniversaries. You should celebrate your partner for who he/she is, just as much as you celebrate what your partner does.
Appreciation and gratitude are crucial to building a healthy and a long-lasting relationship. Your sense of appreciation positively affects you and your perception of your partner. It likewise reinforces your partner’s feeling of being loved. Rather than let time force you both into boring routines, opt for a bonding routine of appreciation for your partner. In all, appreciation and gratitude are not cards you pull out to save the day, they’re a lot more like building blocks you cannot do without.
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