Study Reveals the Two Words Your Marriage Depends On

This simple habit can improve the quality of your marriage.

Study Reveals the Two Words Your Marriage Depends On

Photo: Nancy Cohn and Abby Ross

gratitude research

When was the last time you said "thank you" to your spouse? If it's been awhile, now's the time to get back in the habit. New research suggests that those two little words may be the key to maintaining a happy union.

Researchers at the University of Georgia surveyed 468 married individuals about their financial well-being and communication styles. They found that expressing gratitude was the most consistent predictor of marriage quality.

"Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes," lead author Allen Barton says.

Gratitude was measured based on how much individuals felt valued and appreciated by their spouses and acknowledged by their spouse when they did something nice. The study found that couples who expressed gratitude for their partners experienced fewer negative effects from unhealthy conflict patterns like demanding and withdrawing.

The authors of the study stress that saying "thank you" and showing appreciation for your spouse are practical ways couples can improve their marriages, even if they aren't the best communicators in other areas.

"We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last," says study co-author Ted Futris.

By interviewing long-married couples, researchers have discovered strategies that successful marriages have in common. This study compiled five marriage secrets from 700 individuals in long marriages. Communication skills tend to rise to the top of the list of qualities that predict the success of a marriage – find out why that is

Opening photo by Carrie Rodman Photography