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The Two-Second Relationship Fix That Really, Truly Works
As any relationship expert will tell you — and by relationship expert we mean your best girlfriends or guy friends — everyone argues from time to time. You probably have realized by now that the more stressed out you or your partner feels, the more likely you are to argue. These are simply facts of life. For some reason, it is always easier to pick a fight about why your partner didn’t take the clothes out of the dryer than it is to thank them when they do — but it is. Especially after you have had an extra 30 minutes tacked onto your commute, your boss unhappy with your last project, and you just noticed that your car needs an (expensive) set of new tires.
It’s all too easy to take our partners for granted. After all, isn’t that what they are there for? To get you soup when you are sick, take out the trash the night before, make sure their suits are back on time from the dry cleaners and not make a face when you bring take-out food home again for the third time that week? We assume our loved ones know that we love and appreciate them. A new study out of the University of Georgia, however, shows us that feeling that their spouse appreciated them was the largest predictor of just how happy people felt in their relationship and the chances of that relationship lasting.
This study went on for 15 years, and researchers noted that people who felt grateful had stronger, happier relationships than those who didn’t. Feeling gratitude is one thing, but it’s quite another to feel appreciated. This study interviewed more than 465 married people between the ages of 21 and 86 over the phone. They discussed finances and how much money affected their relationship, how stressed out they might feel about it. They also talked about how they communicated with their partners and how often they told each other that they appreciated them and the things they did. Then, researchers asked them to rank how happy they felt in their marriage and how much, or how little, they might want a divorce. Interestingly, even if the couple was stressed out about pretty big things that were going on in their lives, if they felt that their partner appreciated them, they were much more likely to rate their relationship as stable and happy, and less likely to want a divorce.
When you think about it, this really does make perfect sense. Someone who is aware of what they appreciate in their partner is much more likely to express more kindness, kind words, more positive words, and more peaceful interactions.
So our two-second fix? Let your partner know that you really do appreciate them and the things they do. Of course, you can always simply express your gratitude: “Oh, honey, thanks so much for taking the dishes out of the dishwasher!” But actually, try asking your partner how you can do a better job of showing your appreciation. You might appreciate what you partner does, but do they know it? Or are you praising things he or she doesn’t feel are such a big deal? For example, if you usually praise your wife for her dinners, it’s possible that she is thinking “Every wife cooks dinner, so what? Why doesn’t he tell me that I’m beautiful? “or “Why doesn’t he ever notice that I always have his ties dry-cleaned along with his suit?” Of course, these questions might not lead to a huge revelation, but they can help you to build a stronger relationship.
It all comes down to appreciation and letting your partner know how much you appreciate them picking up their socks off of the floor, babysitting the kids Sunday afternoons so you can go to the movies or always making sure the house is clean and tidy. Be grateful. Be appreciative. You might find that your relationship goes from good to great in two seconds flat.