It’s easy to get lazy about showing our loved ones how much they are appreciated. It is important to pay attention to this part of the relationship, and really prioritizing it on a regular basis.
A recent study conducted at the University of Georgia showed that feeling valued and acknowledged by your partner can keep both parties in a relationship feeling good. A separate study published in Family and Relationships concluded that feeling appreciated by a spouse is the biggest predictor of marital happiness.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, researchers have been more closely examining what makes a good relationship. Allen W. Barton, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Family Research at the University of George in Athens, explained the importance of feeling your spouse is grateful for you, “It’s one thing to be grateful, but it’s another to feel appreciated.”
The study examined nearly 500 married people between the ages of 21 and 86 years old. Telephone interviews were conducted about the issues that stressed them out, including financial matters, communication styles, and mutual appreciation. The participants ranked how happy they felt in their marriage and scored how often they have thought about getting a divorce. The study found that even those couples with major problems were more likely to express that their marriage was happy when they felt appreciated by each other.
Stacy Kaiser, a licensed psychotherapist in Southern California, states, “A person who is truly aware of what they appreciate in their partner will have a tendency to express more kindness, more peaceful interactions, and more positivity, both verbally and non-verbally.”
The secret to making your partner feel more appreciated is not necessarily only expressing more gratitude, but also checking in with your partner to see how you could show them more appreciation in a way that is meaningful to them.
Barton says, “It’s a pretty simple question that seems to have a pretty big effect on couples. I don’t think couples typically ask, ‘What makes you feel appreciated?’” While this may not be a big surprise for most couples, it is important to know that your husband wants to be noticed for his handyman skills, and perhaps you want more recognition for being accomplished in your career. Couples who keep these desires to themselves are often less happy and can develop resentment.
While showing appreciation when times are good is easy, it’s the ability to remember to show appreciation during the hard times that can make a bigger difference in relationships. Kaiser explained, “The challenge is when things aren’t going well to deliberately remind yourself of things you are grateful for and appreciate in your partner so you can shift everything toward the positive.”