Those two words can create a successful marriage, according to a recent study. The University of Georgia Center for Family Research asked 478 married couples about what makes a marriage work. The answer that researchers received was gratitude.
“This is the first study to document the protective effect that feeling appreciated by your spouse can have for marriages,” said Allen Barton, a postdoctoral research associate at the center.
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Barton said telling your partner how grateful you are plays a significant role in determining a couple’s happiness. He said one of the problems with marriage is that couples begin to be ungrateful for each other.
”We think it is quite important as it highlights a practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage, particularly if they are not the most adept communicators in conflict,” Barton said.
Ingratitude becomes amplified during stressful situations. Barton said financial stress is a major roadblock to a couple’s happiness, and arguments are a result of the stress. Learning to express gratitude for each other during those times lessens the willingness to argue, he said. Barton said stopping and thanking your spouse also stops the blame cycle that is prevalent in arguments.
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“Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes,” Barton said. “It goes to show the power of ‘thank you.’”
Ted Furtis, UGA associate professor, agreed. He said developing positive habits, like saying “thank you,” sets the tone for a marriage. That will overcome arguments, he said.
“All couples have disagreements and argue,” Futris said. “What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don’t is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”
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