Wisdom//

Psychologists Say One Habit Can Make Or Break A Relationship

And it leads to lasting love.

Juj Winn/Getty Images
Juj Winn/Getty Images

Do you remember the last time your partner took out the trash?

More importantly, do you remember how you reacted to that small act of kindness?

Couples who take a moment to express gratitude when their partners do something nice — whether it’s taking out the trash, mowing the lawn or picking up their favorite coffee drink on the way home — not only get a temporary boost of happiness, but feel better about the relationship overall.

Those feelings can last for days, weeks, and even months, according to recent research.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist Sara Algoe was one of the first to demonstrate this affect. In one of her studies, she had each member of a couple keep a weekly journal. In it they listed everything their partner had done for them in the previous seven days that made them feel grateful, along with how each act of kindness made them feel and how connected they had felt to their partner.

On the days when they reported feeling more grateful for their partners’ acts of kindness, they also reported feeling more connected to him or her. Those feelings lasted into the following day.

What mattered, then, wasn’t how often someone in the relationship did a thoughtful thing — it was how grateful the partner reported feeling about it.

More recent research suggests that feelings of gratitude affect relationships for far longer than a few days.

series of studies by University of California, Berkeley psychologist Amie Gordon found that the more grateful couples were, the more likely they were to still be in the relationship nine months later.

Being grateful, Gordon wrote in a recent blog post for Psychology Today, isn’t just about saying thank you. It’s about feeling lucky to have a caring partner in the first place.

“My definition of gratitude includes appreciating not just what your partner does, but who they are as a person. You’re not just thankful that your partner took out the trash — you’re thankful that you have a partner who is thoughtful enough to know you hate taking out the trash.”

These findings are based on the idea that gratitude itself can generate more positive thinking, a notion bolstered by dozens of studies in individuals and couples.

Happy couples can make it seem like it all comes naturally, but in reality any strong, quality relationship requires a hefty amount of work. If you want to make your relationship stronger — and you’re willing to put in the effort — gratitude can help you and your partner feel happier and more connected.

Originally published on Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

7 smart pieces of advice on life and work successful people shared this year

Scientists Have Found A Surprising Key To Happy Relationships

Scientists asked 5,500 Americans to reveal their ‘relationship deal breakers’ — here’s what they learned

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

3 behaviors that frighten love away, based on relationship science

by Lucinda Loveland
Well-Being//

I Asked a Relationship Expert About The Secrets to a Happy Marriage

by Eric Barker
Courtesy of zakalinka / Shutterstock
Wisdom//

11 Ways to Ruin Your Relationship for Good

by Ivan De Luce, Shana Lebowitz

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.