Over the last few weeks we’ve touched on gratitude and faith, and about taking gratitude to work. Now lets look at gratitude in relationships.
At its core, gratitude is really all about relationships. As you acknowledge and express sincere gratitude to another person (or to God), you share some level of vulnerability. That’s why gratitude is so effective when it comes to establishing and building connections with others.
Gratitude is especially powerful because when shared, it tends to multiply. People who feel appreciated are happier and are more likely to feel and express gratitude themselves. This kind of positive cycle can have a big impact on your relationships.
There are lots of warnings about destructive cycles in relationships, like the “crazy cycle” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Joy’s dad!) warns about in the great relationship book, Love and Respect. But not all relationship cycles are bad. Some are very, very good. Recent research suggests that a healthy gratitude cycle can significantly strengthen your relationships.
This is one relationship cycle you want to get in on.
According to researcher Amie M. Gordon, “gratitude can help relationships thrive by promoting a cycle of generosity. That is, that one partner’s gratitude can prompt both partners to think and act in ways that help them signal gratitude to each other and promote a desire to hold onto their relationships.”
As partners feel and express gratitude for one another, they implicitly acknowledge each others’ value and in turn strengthen their individual commitment to the relationship. That commitment increases thoughtfulness and responsiveness. Grateful couples tend to be more caring and attentive towards each other, and they tend to feel more connected to each other and more satisfied with their relationships overall.
The logistics of a gratitude cycle are pretty straight-forward, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to “easy.” It all hinges on real feelings of gratitude, which don’t always flow naturally. Even healthy relationships go through times where partners feel dissatisfied or communication breaks down. In those types of situations, getting to gratitude might require setting aside your own hurt feelings or disappointments. It can make you feel vulnerable and exposed, and it carries some risk of rejection. But gratitude is a God-given gift with remarkable healing power.
The more you express gratitude, the better it feels and the easier it comes.
Do your relationships need a dose of gratitude?