"Love is a complex emotion, and in marriage, feeling appreciated is one frequently overlooked aspect that is extremely important." Those are the wise words of a commenter on a Reddit thread that discusses a new UGA study that links gratitude to positive marital outcomes. It sounds simple enough, right? Kindness and appreciation are crucial aspects of a relationship, but long-term couples know that slip-ups happen and that you sometimes have to step back and remember to say thank you. You know each other so well that you often know what the other is thinking, but it's nice to hear your partner's gratefulness out loud. These are eight simple ways to show gratitude to your spouse, as told by real-life couples.
- Overuse "thank you" and "I love you," even in times of disagreement. "Saying nice things during hard times maintains the mindset that the affection is still there, it just happens to be suppressed by something that's going on right now. This way it is something to work on rather than give up on.
- Say "sorry" even if you didn't mean it. "Even if you didn't intend to do something that upset your SO, saying sorry on top of explaining what you did intend to say/do is very important."
- Write down things you love about your spouse. One woman explained that she kept a journal in which she jotted down little things that she loved about her husband and later gave it to him. "It meant a lot for him, and it wasn't just things he had done in the bounds of our relationship — I told him I loved him for helping out a friend clean out his basement, etc."
- Acknowledge them when they do something right, not just when they do something wrong. For example, if there's a habit you want your spouse to break, don't berate them every time they do it and forget to acknowledge the times they don't. As one woman described, her husband preferred to keep the bedroom door closed so the dogs couldn't get in. "It was a habit that took me a while to get into because I never closed the door with my dogs before he moved in. The first few months he would point out every single time I left the door open," she wrote. To talk it out, she told him, "This a hard habit for me to get into, so I would appreciate it if you noticed how hard I am working at it rather than punish me for the times that I lapse."
- Compliment them. Giving each other compliments on a regular basis is an easy way to show communication, love, and gratitude. It could be as simple as "you look so good in that outfit" or as specific as "I really admire your kind heart and the way you treat others." As one commenter noted, "That compliment might have been what your partner needed to make it through the day."
- Be specific with your "thank yous". Don't just thank your spouse for their efforts; be specific about what you noticed. Saying "Thank you for putting up with my grouchiness when you're already not feeling well" will make them feel appreciated. "Thank you for responding with more patience than my cousin's rotten kids deserved" is more powerful than "Thanks for coming to my family reunion."
- And be specific with your "I'm sorry"s. Saying "I'm sorry you feel that way" makes the apology about the other person, when it should be your own. "I'm sorry that what I did made you upset. I know that's a trait I need to work on, and I didn't make you upset on purpose. I realize that's something you feel sensitive about, and I will make an effort to not act that way anymore" is a much better, more sincere response.
- Share responsibilities. It might not be your "turn" to take out the trash or pick up the dry cleaning, but marriage is about partnership and compromise. Little things go a long way, and it's important to show your spouse that you know you're a team.