Giving thanks for and with your spouse is one of the most significant habits you can build into your marriage. Gratitude is an essential ingredient in any relationship, but it takes intentionality and time to put it into practice.
Being grateful can become a way of being, and that carries immense power to sustain and enhance a relationship when authentic. Gratitude illuminates the good gifts we’ve been given–both by our spouse and by God.
When we come into marriage each day with thanksgiving, choosing together to see abundance rather than scarcity, relational satisfaction rises. Here are a few specific ways that gratitude can strengthen and protect your marriage.
Gratitude helps us remember the reasons we first fell in love with our spouse. Stating words of appreciation for precious times together and beloved qualities in one another sparks memories of particularly rich seasons that can sustain commitment during harder seasons.
Gratitude increases love, fun, and forgiveness. Study after study confirms that individuals who consistently give thanks are more likely to experience positive emotions and satisfying interactions. The same is doubly true for marriage. When two people are committed to seeing and appreciating life’s gifts together, their perspectives change and broaden. Anxiety tends to lessen, and shared enjoyment increases.
Gratitude deepens spiritual intimacy. A person bent toward gratitude receives more graciously, and a person who feels appreciated gives more confidently. The mutuality of giving and receiving in marriage reflects the way God generously gives to his people. When a couple’s actions reflect the nature of God–and they see that–a beautiful closeness occurs. This is deepened further through giving thanks to God together.
Gratitude enhances sex. True mutual thankfulness deepens a couple’s emotional and spiritual bonds, which inevitably fosters a more intense physical connection. When we appreciate one another authentically, the risk in vulnerability lesses. Affirmation creates a safer space and a more tender connection.
Gratitude creates a mutual cycle of appreciation. It’s simply human nature that when a person feels appreciated, they’re more likely to state appreciation for others. Practicing gratitude in marriage can have a snowball effect because as one partner expresses thanks and affirmation, the same more naturally flows from the other. Occasional small thanks can lead to a whole and underlying culture of gratitude.
Gratitude softens criticism. Harsh words sting, and can easily have the power to tear down confidence in a marriage. When words of affirmation and gratitude become consistent and integral to a relationship, they slowly lay a foundation of trust that cushions the blow of harsh words.
Here are some quick suggestions for practical ways to practice gratitude in your marriage:
Make a shared gratitude journal. Together, write down three things you’re each thankful for at the end of every day. Studies show this practice has a significant impact on happiness.
Pray together. Create a daily routine in which you come before God together, even for just a few minutes, and thank Him for one another and all that’s He’s given you in this life together.
Use body language. Words are significant, but appreciation expressed in the unspoken is powerful. Make eye contact when you say “thank you.” Touch one another lovingly. Supplementing a word of thanks with a hand squeeze or hug makes it all the more significant.
Write a list of all the things you appreciate about your partner. Having a written record of gratitude will prove powerful on the days marked by frustration or loneliness.
Remember together. Enjoy reflecting on past memories and seasons that you’ve shared. Be actively grateful for the journey you’ve walked together, stating appreciation for one another and for shared experiences.
Say “thank you,” even for the small things. Thank your husband for taking out the trash, even if he’s done it for 15 years. Thank your wife for making the bed, even though it takes two minutes. Regardless of roles, norms, and expectations, verbally appreciate your partner’s contributions, even in the mundane.
On this day of Thanksgiving, appreciate the many gifts of this life, and be especially grateful for the partner beside you. Make a commitment–together–to extend the practice of giving thanks beyond just today.