Gratitude In Your Relationship

Genie Joseph, PhD

One way to increase satisfaction with your partner is to build gratitude in your relationship.

There are two ways to look at your partner:  

  1. You can either say he or she is perfect exactly the way they are.  
  2. Or you can say everyone is imperfect – in the sense that everyone is on their journey, which means that they are perfectly on their journey – which means they are perfect, even in the presence of “imperfection.”

Whichever way you choose, the point is to see the perfection in your partner, even at the same time as you see the flaws. I am not suggesting your turn a blind eye to the flaws. And it doesn’t mean that you have to love those flaws. But the point of choosing a “perfection-strategy” is a bit like seeing the glass half-empty –or seeing it half-full. Building gratitude in your relationship helps you move into the half full world.

There is the same evidence for either point of view.  It is all about your perspective on the situation. The difference is that if you see it half-full, you see it as having a positive potential, that it could move towards fullness. If you are looking at that glass and seeing what is not there, what is missing, what is wrong -- you will feel disappointment, frustration, maybe even despair that things will ever change.

In a relationship, if you are grateful for the good things in your partner, you are, in a sense, seeing the positive, beneficial qualities of the relationship. Adding gratitude in your relationship is the half-full mindset. It is a healthy way of thinking that leads to greater satisfaction. It can include the willingness to address the issues that are less than ideal. But it starts with a fundamental sense of approval of your partner being a work in progress, (as they are), but with the powerful belief in the possibility of positive development.

On the other hand, if you are continuously focusing on what is missing in the relationship, it makes you feel continually dissatisfied. And your partner gets the message that they are not enough. They will start to feel that they can’t get it right and can’t please you. Men are allergic to feeling this on an ongoing basis, and eventually, their eyes will wander to someone who makes them feel that they are right, or at least okay the way they are.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that the attitude of gratitude has many health benefits, emotionally and physically. If you spend a moment once or twice a day to reflect and express your gratitude to your partner, it will go a long way to nurturing and sustaining happiness in the relationship.

Adding Gratitude In Your Relationship

Take a moment before you go to sleep, or sometime during the day to consciously and deliberately focus on what you feel grateful for in the relationship. Somedays it might be something as simple as “he or she is still here!” Whatever it takes to jump-start the gratitude attitude, start with something simple.  Could you be grateful he or she is not an ax murderer? It sounds silly, but if it makes you laugh, it starts releasing some tension. It warms you up to think about something for which you seriously feel grateful. 

If your partner is open to doing this, you can create a daily ritual and have a moment of gratitude that you express to each other every day. Say at dinner, or breakfast, or before you go to sleep, or anytime you do it is a good time. This will go a long way toward raising your satisfaction level in the relationship, by really recognizing and relishing the good parts. And it will go a long way to making your partner feel honored, respected, and valued. And isn’t that something you both want to feel?

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