Thought Catalog
November 19, 2015

This Is How A Little Gratitude Can Save Your Relationship

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Twenty20 / jesmcro
Twenty20 / jesmcro

One of the first life lessons little kids are taught is to always say, “thank you.” When someone does something nice for you, you thank them. It’s a concept that is drummed into our heads starting at the age of about two. But you’ll notice that saying thanks doesn’t come easy. Very rarely does a kid remember to say it – it usually follows a prompt by a parent…now what do you say? And it never gets easier.

Gratitude doesn’t come easily or naturally to most of us; rather, it’s a skill that needs to be honed and crafted. But when you get it down, it can literally change your life. Countless studies have demonstrated that expressing gratitude can vastly increase our physical and emotional well-being.

Gratitude can also have enormous implications for your relationship…and your ability to find love if you aren’t currently in a relationship.

When both partners see the good in one another and feel appreciative, the relationship is filled with love, connection, and harmony.

When both partners focus on what the other isn’t doing and take each other for granted, the relationship is filled with resentment, frustration, and bitterness.

The truth is, a good relationship starts with you. When you bring positivity and happiness into the relationship, your partner will rise up to match and then your relationship will flourish. I’m not saying the responsibility is on the woman – it goes both ways. But the only person you can control is yourself.

If you want your life and your relationship to improve, you can’t blame circumstances or your partner. Instead, you need to take responsibility and make internal changes that lead to external ones. And the most important lesson is that of giving thanks.

Read on to find out how it’s done and why it’s so important.

Why Is It So Hard?

Life can tear a lot of us down. As the years go by, bitter experiences pile up and our hearts become shrouded with hurt and pain. The more jaded we become, the harder it is to see beyond the darkness and feel thankful for anything. A lot of us become the victims of our own lives and we feel justified in it. We blame our parents, our upbringing, the boy who broke our heart, the bad economy. I’m not saying none of it is valid, but when you dwell on all the bad hands you’ve been dealt, you fuel the fire of anger and resentment and this only makes for an even more miserable experience.

When it comes to relationships, expressing gratitude can be even more challenging because the stakes are so much higher. Romantic relationships can cause many emotions to rise to the surface…some are good and exhilarating, and some are bad and rooted in pain from the past. All of us look at life through a lens that is colored by our own experiences and we form certain expectations as a result.

When you measure a guy against this code of expected behavior, he will always fall short and you will always feel disappointed. The reason he’ll fall short is because no one can get it right every single time. He isn’t a mind reader and he has been shaped by a whole different set of experiences.

When you think a guy should do something, and if he doesn’t it means he doesn’t care, then you ignore all the things he does that show he does care and get all riled up because of a few things that you (or rather, your unconscious mind) think a man should do when he loves a woman. You feel hurt and unloved and might start blaming him for “making” you feel a certain way. When you’re in this head space, you will not be able to appreciate anything he does and will silently resent him for not doing more. He can text you back promptly every single time and you will still get upset the one time he takes a little longer to get back to you.

Everyone likes appreciation; we all want to be seen and acknowledged for what we do. But appreciation hits different notes for men and women. Typically, women want to feel adored and cherished above anything else in order to feel happy in a relationship. Men need to feel appreciated and acknowledged. If a man doesn’t feel that, he will either leave the relationship or will stay in it and feel miserable.

When a man feels like a woman appreciates him, he will go above and beyond to make her happy. It’s not just about appreciating what he does, it’s about appreciating who he is. What men want more than anything is a woman who is happy with him. That’s really it. And a woman who expresses gratitude and is happy with who he is and what he does is the woman he wants to commit himself to.

The more gratitude you feel for him, the more connected he will feel to you and the more he will come to appreciate you. I’m not saying you’re never allowed to be disappointed or upset with him, but there is a difference between disapproving of an action and disapproving of a person. You can express your discontent in a loving way that still conveys an appreciation for his character as opposed to a punishing and blaming way that makes him feel bad or guilty.

If you want more love from your man, you need to make him feel loved and the way to do this is to show genuine appreciation for the things he does.

Look at the intention, not the action. He’s not going to get it right every single time – that just isn’t possible. But the majority of the time, his intentions are good. He set out to make you happy and that deserves to be appreciated. You don’t need to give him anything in return – just you being happy with who he is and what he does is all he needs from you.

How To Train Yourself To Be More Grateful

Now that we’ve covered why it’s important to be grateful, let’s talk about tangible ways to do it.

I think the most powerful way to re-train your mind to be more grateful is to keep a gratitude journal. A teacher of mine gave me this suggestion many years ago and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I considered myself a very grateful person and did not see how this would benefit me at all. But then I gave it a try and wow…it was not as easy as I expected. My teacher told me to write down three things I was grateful for every day. Easy enough. The catch was that they always had to be different, as in no reruns.

As the days passed and the exercise got a little more difficult, I noticed myself changing. I started to live every day actively looking for things to be grateful for. Usually this was because I wanted to come up with three things and just be done with it, like getting in an early morning workout. I thought it would only continue to get harder but a funny thing happened after a few weeks…it actually got easier. And soon, I was finding way more than just three new things to be grateful for each day. I kept going with this for months and can affirm that it is absolutely life- changing. I felt so calm and so at ease and just happier all around.

If you are having trouble in your relationship, I highly suggest you think of two or three things every day that you love and appreciate about your partner. You don’t even need to tell him you’re doing this or what the things are. Just think about it every day and write it down. And like I did in my exercise, think of new things every day. It can be things he did for you or things about him. Focus on everything he does right and see how that impacts your relationship. (Mark my words, you’ll start seeing major changes within about a week or two.)

Even if you aren’t having major issues in your relationship, anytime your partner does something that annoys or frustrates you, just think about a few reasons why you care about him and why you’re grateful to have him in your life.

I just want to add that this does not apply to relationships where there is physical or emotional abuse. I’m talking about healthy, functioning relationships that just get rocky from time to time…as most relationships do.

If you’re single, think about what you love about your life right now. Think about what you’re appreciative for and good things that have happened throughout the day. I think writing it out is best because it makes it more real, but if that feels like too much of a commitment then just spend time every day reflecting on it.

Practicing gratitude on a daily basis can literally re-wire you. It can transform the way you think which will change the way you feel and the vibe you transmit. People can naturally pick up on the vibes someone is sending out. When you feel bitter or angry or jaded on the inside, it will come across on the outside no matter how you try to hide it. There is no faking being in a good place. You have to work on it, and if you do, suddenly everything will change and you’ll notice enormous improvements in all areas of your life. TC mark

This post originally appeared at A New Mode

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