• Bill Walker

Improving Your Marriage Make a Gratitude List

It’s easy to take our spouse and our marriage for granted. Start doing this and learn to appreciate your spouse all over again.

“Gratitude is the fastest road to happiness in marriage.” (L. Parrott)

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, usually expressed by showing appreciation for that thankfulness.

We all need to feel appreciated. This is especially true in marriage because of the repeated daily actions and tasks required to make our marriages work. (dealing with our partner's moodiness, overlooking faults, etc.).

Feeling unappreciated can lead us to a “What’s the point” attitude. This is dangerous ground for any relationship because it can ultimately lead to questions like, “What’s the point in staying faithful to my spouse?” and, “What's the point of staying in this marriage?”

Stop These Questions Before They Start

Preventing a problem is always easier than trying to fix one. The best way to stop the ‘why bother’ questions is to adopt the attitude that you are always going to do what you can to prevent your partner from reaching this point.

The easiest way to do this - Make Them Feel Appreciated.

The most effective way to make your spouse feel appreciated is to regularly express your gratitude for them. Tell them how much you appreciate them - often!.

Some Truths About Gratitude

  • Gratitude is a function of attention.

Don’t get so caught up in your own stuff that you ignore your spouse. Be aware of them and the big and small things they do that bring value to your life and relationship.

This is important because when we receive something good on a regular basis we tend to become desensitized to its value, eventually taking it for granted.

  • Entitlement stifles gratitude

Get over your ‘self’. If you think you automatically deserve to be appreciated you may find it impossible to be grateful.

  • Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, increases our experience of gratitude

This is common sense. It's a destructive myth to believe that our spouse can read our minds. Believing they can leads us to take the attitude: "I don't have to tell them I appreciate them - they should just know." This is a recipe for guaranteed relationship unhappiness.

Hearing the words, “I love you” and “I appreciate you” are the fuel that keeps our marriage running strong.

The Value of Making a Gratitude List

Once a week, write down a few things your spouse has done to ‘invest in the relationship’ recently. Here's why.

Relationship researchers at the University of Utah had a group of volunteers do this. They also had another group make a list of things they, themselves, had done to invest in the relationship recently. The researchers then compared the two groups as to how they felt towards their marriage after making the list.

The group that listed what they, themselves, had done recently to invest in the relationship reported feeling somewhat more committed to their marriage. The group that focused on their partner’s contributions reported feeling significantly more committed to their marriage and significantly more grateful towards their husband/wife. [1]

The List Works!

Here is the conclusion the study reached:

“People feel particularly grateful for partners who they perceive to have invested into the relationship, which, in turn, motivates them to further commit to the relationship”.


A Christian Worldview Perspective

Gratitude is a major requirement and defining characteristic of a Christian worldview. Followers of God and Christ are commanded to be thankful and grateful in all situations.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people," (1 Timothy 2:1, ESV)

The Bible warns of the “last days”, a time when the people of the earth will become so evil that it will bring God’s final judgment. One of the signs of this evilness will be a lack of gratitude.

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…”. (2 Timothy 3:2. ESV). Notice the next to last characteristic – “ungrateful”.

Followers of God and Christ have a divine directive from God to make gratitude a defining part of our lives.


Action Steps

1) Make the effort to notice what your spouse contributes to your

marriage and be grateful for it.

2) At least a couple of times a month make a short list of what your

husband/wife has done to invest in your relationship.

3) Regularly express your gratitude to your spouse for their

relationship contributions and support.

Partner gratitude is a very powerful tool for increasing your commitment to your marriage.

Start making that list today.


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