Saying “thank you” isn’t just a sign of good manners, it may help save your relationship! A new study finds people who feel appreciated by their significant other express more satisfaction with their relationship and are more likely to stay with their partner.
During a 15-month period, Prof. Allen Barton from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign examined the power of gratitude and how it impacted 316 African American couples. Specifically, Barton’s team wanted to see if both expressing gratitude and perceiving gratitude made couples more resilient to daily stressors — like financial trouble.
Results show that participants reporting higher levels of expressed and perceived gratitude were more satisfied with their relationship. These individuals had more confidence that their relationships were stable and were less likely to think about breaking up in the future.
When the researchers looked at the protective effects of gratitude, they found that perceived gratitude buffered people against the negative impact of various stressors — including financial stress and arguing with a partner.
Perceived gratitude not only protected people from stress in the moment, but it also had a long-lasting effect months later. Study authors do note that higher levels of expressed gratitude did not protect people against stress.
“Be sure to make compliments that are sincere and genuine. And ask your partner if there are any areas in which they feel their efforts aren’t being appreciated or acknowledged and start expressing appreciation for those,” Barton suggests.
The study is published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.