Giving Thanks

By Kelly Moran

Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Ph.D. an Assumption College psychology professor who teaches, researches and writes about the science of emotion, motivation and wellness, recently blogged about the results of a new study, “The Power of Gratitude in Marriage,” on her blog on positive psychology for Martha Stewart Living’s online publication Whole Living Daily (http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/author/sarah-rose-cavanagh). Along with forgiveness and positivity during conflict, finding and expressing gratitude is a possible contributor to a happy marriage, Cavanagh wrote.

The findings are a result of a study in which 50 couples, married for 20 years or more, were asked to keep daily journals for two weeks about when they felt gratitude, expressed gratitude and felt marriage satisfaction. Cavanagh stresses the importance of actions over words.

“The researchers found that, unsurprisingly, there was a strong positive relationship between one’s own felt and expressed gratitude and how satisfied one was with the marriage,” Cavanagh blogged. “The researchers discovered something more intriguing, however…that in long-term marriage, expressions of gratitude may become so commonplace as to become background noise. However, truly felt gratitude toward a partner may be portrayed in nonverbal cues and in reciprocal actions (“she went out of her way to make my morning easier, I think I’ll make her favorite meal for dinner tonight”), both of which could result in higher marriage satisfaction.”

Cavanagh also assigned a task to her readers, “Find something to feel truly grateful for in your romantic partner and express that gratitude. Use more than words. You’ll both thank me later.”

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