How to Keep Gratitude in Your Romantic Relationship

Man kisses woman on the cheek at a park on a sunny dayThe easiest place to lose gratitude can often be the place it is most deserved and needed. To stay in a healthy and loving connection with our significant other, we’ve got to get back to a place of saying “thank you” with both our words and deeds. You chose your person for a reason. Let’s get back to a gracious state of mind. You’ll be surprised the difference an intentional shift in your thinking can make. 

Active Appreciation

There’s a lot of talk these days about a mother’s “mental load.” The tabs in our brain are many, and it can feel like they are constantly open. We have lists, to-dos, worries, and plenty of issues that we remind ourselves to “keep an eye on.” We run houses, manage families, and pursue careers. Any mother will tell you this is the most abbreviated statement I could make about what we do. It is a mammoth task being a mom.

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How often are we thanked for all the work that goes on behind the scenes? There are points when it feels like motherhood is a pretty darn thankless job. Once we fall into that negative mindset, it’s difficult to feel appreciative of what our significant other brings to the table. Instead of dwelling on being thanked, focus on being thankful.

The dynamic changes when you actively look for ways to thank your other half. When you toss out the myopic view of your relationship and commit to naming what you are grateful for, you restructure your foundation as a couple.

Active appreciation looks like looking for reasons to say thank you. Active appreciation is a continuous practice. Maybe your significant other takes the trash out each week. Sure, it’s a mundane task and there is a myriad of tasks you also do, but can you still say thank you? Can you value the fact that taking out the trash contributes to the family unit? Active appreciation works when you slow down enough to notice your person’s efforts, call them out, and remain committed to the exercise.

When you make active appreciation a regular part of your day, you’ll notice the little things done out of love for you. This could spur you on to show a little more love yourself! Recently, I was in an ugly place about my husband’s upcoming work travel. I was feeling a little me-centric and bemoaning the long stretch of time he’d be away. A few days before the trip, my husband came home with arms full of food he’d picked up from Costco. He’d blocked off what precious time he had left in the week to make sure the kids and I were stocked with food while he was away.

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I couldn’t continue to focus on my frustrations about his trip when he was showing me care and consideration through a very sweet gesture! When you make a point to notice the efforts of the person you love, it becomes easier to relate to them with a posture of gratitude. That’s active appreciation.

Avoid Making Negative Assumptions

In addition to getting caught up in being thanked, we can fall into the trap of making negative assumptions about our significant other.

When we feel depleted by sleepless nights with a baby or overwhelmed by a busy family calendar, it feels easy to pit ourselves against the person closest to us. We assume motives. We spin up stories in our mind and create me-versus-them scenarios.

Much like active appreciation, we have to flip the tendency to make negative assumptions on its head. Resolving to assume the best of your partner, instead of the worst, can reignite gratitude in the relationship. That goes a long way in these tricky seasons of feeling tired and worn out!A man holds a bouquet of daisies behind his back to surprise his girlfriend standing in front of him.

Always Celebrate Your Partner

Let’s not mince words with this one. If you speak poorly of your partner to others, it will be difficult to practice gratitude towards him or her.

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Speaking highly of your significant other has the power to change how you view him or her. If taking on this type of practice feels weird to you, think of one or two things from your active appreciation exercise (notice your person’s efforts and call them out). Have those ready to share in case the temptation to get negative arises. I’ve found when I share positive things about my husband, it creates a chain reaction and others feel inclined to do the same about their partners.

Our world needs more celebration in relationships! And, if at the end of the day, you can’t find anything nice to say . . . well, you know the rest! No one likes to be talked about behind his or her back. If something is bothering you, talk directly to your person, and trust and respect will handle the rest.

We all face bumpy roads with our partners. It’s inevitable. But gratitude is the life-force that allows your bond to thrive. To infuse gratitude into your relationship, practice active appreciation. Additionally, avoid negative assumptions of your partner and always be willing to celebrate him or her to others!

Ashley is from Hurst, and though she’s flown the nest a few times now, she always seems to boomerang right back to her hometown. Her latest stint took her family to Chicago for the last four years. While Ashley, her husband of almost 16 years, her son and daughter loved life as honorary Midwesterners, Texas called, and it was time to answer. Though her children are in upper elementary school, Ashley found her groove as a stay-at-home mom and is not eager to give up the title quite yet. You can find her putting in the miles all over town with her “doggy clients” as a Rover walker and caregiver. (Dogs talk back less than children.) Ashley is often the loudest mom at the ball fields but comes in peace with the best snacks. She recharges with a run around Hurst, a ride on that stationary bike everyone’s talking about, or on a patio with a margarita and her very funny husband. Ashley has written for local mom groups, church and is a returning writer for Fort Worth Moms. Her husband hopes she will stick to more pieces on motherhood and less on disappointing stays at grimy hotels.


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