• Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT

The Importance of Gratitude in Relationships


Can you believe we're already in November? The holidays will be here before we know it! From the subtle change in weather to pumpkin spice lattes, it's one of my favorite seasons in south Florida. With Thanksgiving a few weeks away, this time of year reminds us to be thankful for so many things. The holidays also remind me of the importance of gratitude in relationships. It is vital to express gratitude for your partner and genuine appreciation for the little things your partner does.

For some, expressing appreciation by saying "I'm grateful we share the same values and beliefs" or "I appreciate you taking the kids to school this morning" comes naturally, but for other's it takes more intentional effort to verbalize gratitude. Regardless, I urge you to be mindful about noticing and expressing the things you notice your partner doing that you appreciate and want to see continue. A little appreciation goes a long way!

According to Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute, there are seven principles to keep a relationship strong and appreciation is involved in #2.

1. Enhance your love maps: How does this work you ask? A love map is the part of your brain that stores all the relevant information about your partner, likes, dislikes, emotional history, past difficulties, family history etc. Dr. Gottman suggests you explore these areas with each other.

2. Nurture your fondness and admiration: Fondness and admiration are antidotes to and prevention from contempt. Consider a positive thought about your partner each day for several weeks. For example, I am really lucky to have found my partner because we have the same beliefs and values. This will show your partner that appreciate them.

3. Turn toward each other instead of away: Being there for each other for minor events in each other’s lives is more important than all the candlelight dinners in the world.

4. Accepting Influence: This means sharing power and decision making in the relationship as well as taking each other's feelings into account.

5. Solving Solvable problems: They key to managing conflict is to communicate understanding acceptance, respect and appreciation. There are some things that you will never agree about, but if you are respectful of your partner’s opinion, it will be easier to come to an understanding.

6. Overcome Gridlock: The goal to ending gridlock is not to solve the problem but to move to a dialogue. Discuss why the issue is so important to you and your partner, and try to compromise taking each partner’s feelings and opinions into consideration.

7. Create shared meaning: Gottman describes a shared meaning as a spiritual dimension which enables couples to create an inner life together. That inner life has a culture rich with symbols and rituals and an appreciation for each other’s roles that leads them to understand what it means to be part of this union.

Although these steps may seem difficult at first, practicing will make you an expert. If you want to talk more about expressing gratitude for your partner, or a relationship revival, contact Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT and the team at Bayview Therapeutic Services at (954) 391-5305 ext. 1. Dr. Kate provides couples counseling, marriage therapy, and pre-marital counseling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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