An Attitude of Gratitude Helps Maintain Loving Relationships

Gratitude is an attitude of thankfulness. This state of mind can apply to gratitude for tangible or intangible things, such as a home, a job, a new car, physical health, and even happiness. People who have high levels of gratitude and practice gratitude in their lives tend to have more peaceful and harmonious existences than those who do not. Many studies have been conducted on the effects of gratitude; however, until now no study has looked at how an attitude of gratitude helps maintain an intimate relationship. To explore this dynamic, Amie M. Gordon of the Department of Psychology at the University of California recently led a series of studies that looked at how appreciation and gratitude influenced the relationship satisfaction and stability of committed couples.

Gordon and her colleagues developed a tool to assess appreciation in order to capture how much partners felt appreciated and how much they exhibited appreciative behaviors. The Appreciation in Relationships (AIR) scale is the first of its kind and was tested over the course of several weeks in the current study. Partners were instructed to report how appreciated and valued they felt by their significant others during the study period and again 9 months later. Additionally, all of the participants were observed in a laboratory setting so that objective ratings of appreciation could be gathered.

The results of the studies indicated that having an attitude of gratitude and appreciation significantly improved relationship satisfaction and stability. Not only were the appreciative participants more committed to their partners than those who were less willing to demonstrate gratitude, but they also received more appreciation. In sum, the participants who felt more appreciated were more likely to communicate their appreciation than those who felt less valued. Gordon also discovered that the couples who reported being thankful and appreciative had high observer ratings of appreciation as well. Finally, these same couples were more likely to still be together at the 9-month follow-up when compared to those with less appreciative attitudes. Gordon added, “These findings provide evidence that gratitude is important for the successful maintenance of intimate bonds.”

Gordon, A. M., Impett, E. A., Kogan, A., Oveis, C., Keltner, D. (2012). To have and to hold: Gratitude promotes relationship maintenance in intimate bonds. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 103.2: 257-74.

Related articles:
If Only My Partner Would Change, Then Everything Would Be OK
Falling in Love Again with Someone who Hurt You
One Big Relationship Mistake (and How to Fix it)

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Layla

    August 13th, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    It’s like when you remember to be grateful for all of the good things that you have in life, that helps you a little more easily forget about the bad that’s there too. I think that too many times we get all wrapped up in the negativity and that’s where we choose to stay. Well, guess what? If that’s all that you intend to focus on than things will never get any better for you. There are times when you really just have to look at yourself in the mirror and suck it up and get past all of the youck stuff and think about how great it is to be alive and really focus on all that you’ve been given. I know that when I amke myself do that, it completely changes my point of view and I become a little more focused on the important things in life.

  • colleen

    August 13th, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Funny this should show up here because my husband and I just had this very discussion just the other day, about how much easier it is to show love to one another when you actually are feeling that love from that other person in your life.

    When you feel that you are under valued and being taken for granted then it is very easy to shy away from showing your true feelingd from someone. I really do think that this is a defense mechanism, we are afraid of getting hurt of we show wahat we are really feeling so we shut down and give them nothing.

    The terrible thing about this that we don’t realize it at the time is that when we shut down, this will make the other person tend to do the same thing, and so this becomes one large vicious circle of miscommunication and distrust.

    How much easier life in general would be if we could simply learn to love one another, be thankful for one another, ann not be so afraid to show it.

  • henry

    August 13th, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    who doesn’t like being appreciated for something?it is our nature to feel better and to feel good about what we are doing if we are appreciated for it.a little thank you goes a long definitely that helps a relationship.

  • Brock T

    August 14th, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    The sad thing is that we have all become so “me” minded that we have a difficult time remembering that it is better to give then to receive, and that we would all make so many uplifting changes to society if we were able to put aside our own selfishness and look to others for becoming more appreciative for our lives.

  • Jasmine

    August 14th, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    When you feel the love, it sure is a whole lot easier to give that love right back over when you are feeling the hate. Ya’ll know what we want to give back when we are feeling the hate- more of the same.

  • mandy

    August 14th, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    everybody needs motivation and there is no motivator like gratitude and praise.its not a bad thing either.if your partner is doing something special for you then thank them for it! men are usually culprits in this regard and you know what, it will only encourage your partner to do better for you if you are makes them feel good about them putting in effort and will also encourage them to do the same in future.its a win win if you ask me!

  • cornelia a

    December 6th, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    My interpretation of good relationship is when the partner does not take the other for granted and continues to show appreciation which enables the relationship/partnership to thrive and becomer stronger.

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