How often do you neglect to express gratitude to your spouse? There are reasons every day to be grateful to each other - for working hard for your family, for passing the potatoes at dinner, for a kind comment - but these moments often pass without a word of thanks. Neglecting these opportunities may have more of an impact than you expect.
First of all, the amount you use those two words indicates much about the condition of your marriage overall. The University of Georgia surveyed 468 married people and discovered that "expressions of spousal gratitude were a significant predictor of marital quality."
Specifically, study co-author Ted Futris stated, "We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last." So saying "thank you" impacts your whole perspective on your relationship, including how invested you and your spouse are to it. In other words, people feel more motivated to avoid divorce when they feel their spouse is grateful for them.
Saying "thank you" is even influential in grim circumstances. The study's lead author, Allen Barton reported, "Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes." So expressing gratitude to your spouse has the ability to counteract negative issues in your marriage. Futris noted, "All couples have disagreements and argue. And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments. 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." This means that even if you and your spouse are having issues, you can overcome them by making strides to show your appreciation every day.
Furthermore, Barton refers to expressing gratitude as having a "protective effect" on marriage. He says that merely saying "thank you" is a "practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage." Most importantly, Barton notes that this is an easy way for people who aren't great at communicating to absolutely shift the temperature of their marriage. He continues, "Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes."
In short, by telling your spouse that you appreciate him, he will feel more positive about himself, you, and your relationship. These positive feelings have the power to sustain your relationship through challenging circumstances.
As Allen Barton stated, "It goes to show the power of 'thank you.'"