The Surprisingly Simple Secret to a Happier Marriage

The Surprisingly Simple Secret to a Happier Marriage

Anyone’s marriage can benefit from this happiness boost, now and for years to come!


By: Lorraine Allen

Marriage is complex. It’s a partnership that changes and defines so much about us, from where we live and how we live, to who our kids become, and what we do with our time on this earth. Marriage can even shape how we feel every day. And as we grow and age as a couple, our feelings about our relationship and our spouse evolve, too. Relationships can grow from crazy, carefree, puppy love feelings at the onset to a much more serious, deeper understanding of each other. Many of the emotions and emotional changes we experience throughout marriage are positive, but sometimes, our happiness as a couple ebbs and flows, which can be hard.

Luckily, new research from the National Institutes of Health took a closer look at what makes happiness blossom and last in a marriage. Turns out, the answer is surprisingly simple: gratitude. Yes, feeling grateful for your spouse has shown to act as a “booster shot” for your relationship, for both of you.

The study looked at the little things married partners do to support each other every day, like bringing home flowers or making a birthday dinner, offering congratulations for a promotion, or caring for the kids so the other person can sleep in. Actions like these can lead to a range of emotions, and some aren’t positive, like indifference, indebtedness, or even misunderstanding. But if the spouse receiving the kind gesture feels and expresses gratitude, then both people will feel a boost of happiness in the relationship -- not just that day, but the next day, as well!

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Along the same lines, research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology followed 50 committed couples. The study asked the couples to fill out appreciation journals. Partners who felt appreciated on one given day tended to show more appreciation for their partners the next day.

Married couples with kids who have so much on their plates every day are even more prone than couples without kids to overlook the little things we do for each other. We’re tired. We’re overworked. We’re stretched thin. But consider this: When you get older, wouldn’t you prefer to look back on your married life and think, “Meh, I was happy enough being married to my spouse all those years,” or “Yeah, no matter what life threw at us, we were still happy to be together and to have each other?”

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If you prefer the latter, the next time your partner does the dishes, walks the dog, or takes care of you when you’re not feeling well, be thankful, and be sure to express your appreciation and gratitude. You’ll both feel a boost of relationship satisfaction right away and for as long as you remember not to take each other for granted.

How often do you express gratitude to your spouse?


Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages


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