“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 study co-author Ted Futris, an associate professor at the University of Georgia in the US.
With the use of a telephone survey, the study asked 468 married individuals questions about their financial well being, demand/withdraw communication and expressions of spousal gratitude.
The results indicated that spousal expression of gratitude was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality.
“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,'” study’s lead author Allen Barton from the University of Georgia noted.
“Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes,” Barton noted.
The study also found that higher levels of spousal gratitude expressions protected men’s and women’s divorce proneness as well as women’s marital commitment from the negative effects of poor communication during conflict.
“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability,” Futris said.
“This is the first study to document the protective effect that feeling appreciated by your spouse can have for marriages,” Barton said.
The study was published in the journal Personal Relationships.