Every relationship hits bumpy patches. In fact, sometimes it seems like hills and valleys are the primary topography of some long-term lovers.
But there is one trick healthy couples use to sustain love when conflicts, boredom or neglect threaten to extinguish their flame.
That trick is gratitude.
Counting your blessings and experiencing deep feelings of thanks are the true backbone to personal happiness.
Studies show people who feel gratitude — and express it regularly — tend to have more energy, are happier people and even have better health.
They are less likely to feel lonely, sad or lethargic.
As a doctor of psychology, when I read statistics like this, my inquiring mind always asks the chicken or the egg question.
Are grateful people born or made? Do couples “use a trick,” or do happier people just have happier relationships?
According to Martin Seligman, with the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of the positive psychology movement, happiness can be learned and it often begins with gratitude.
Here are four ways you can use gratitude to keep your relationship strong:
1. On waking.
Be mindful each morning of the blessings your relationship has been endowed with.
Make it a daily practice to begin each day with a compliment to your partner – that means a verbal expression of why you are grateful for them.
“If you’ve never written your partner a letter
of gratitude, today is the day to start.”
2. When criticizing.
Let’s face it, we can’t all be love blobs forever. All partners have to negotiate their space and their boundaries, and that means there will be conflict, or at least you will need to criticize him or her sometime.
My advice? Express gratitude before and after you offer a critique. It will make it easier for your partner to hear you and it will help you be reminded of why you are in the relationship.
3. When feeling neglected.
It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is possible to feel lonely in a relationship.
Your partner may be traveling or working a lot, or perhaps he or she is so distracted that they aren’t able to give you the emotional attention you deserve.
These are the times you can practice self-soothing behaviors to contain yourself.
Feel gratitude for the good friends you may have, the quiet time to get things done and the feelings of trust that your partner will return.
4. Put it in writing.
Words have power, but the written word is more powerful.
Notes of gratitude left by a morning coffee or on a pillow can be kryptonite to a relationship. If you’ve never written your partner a letter of gratitude, today is the day to start.
Readers, how are you going to incorporate more gratitude into your dating life? In what ways do you show your partner you appreciate them?
Photo source: captivated35.wordpress.com.