Want a happy marriage? Never stop telling your spouse, "thank you."
In a newly published study on personal relationships, researchers at the University of Georgia interviewed 468 married people to find the secret behind those who were still happy in their commitment to their spouse, according to Today.
They asked them to detail their financial well-being, ins and outs of communication with their partner and the ways they expressed gratitude. Results showed the happiest married people would consistently express their gratitude to their husband or wife, and also received it right back.
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"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," said Ted Futris, associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences in a statement on the university’s website.
That didn't mean the happy couples didn't go through tough times, as all couples do, according to the study. Researchers said the couples who continued to tell each other how grateful they were to have one another during the difficult experiences wound up closer, and even happier in their marriage after the trauma.
And as many already know – nagging is a no-no.
"Demand/withdraw communication occurs when one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation," the study's lead author Allen Barton wrote on the study’s website. Barton is a former doctoral student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Already in a negative communication cycle with your partner? That's not a problem, the study showed.
Researchers said gratitude can interrupt the cycle and help couples overcome their current stresses and reverse their toxic relationship patterns.
In a nasty argument? It's bound to happen, but once you move past it end it on the note of being thankful for your marriage and partnership, and ensuring that they know.
Gratitude was measured by appreciation that was seen and heard by spouses who truly felt valued by their spouse and were acknowledged when they did something nice for them.
"It goes to show the power of 'thank you,'" Barton said.