Good manners may seem like a no-brainer, but when you've been with your partner for a long time, it's sometimes easy to let the little things fall by the wayside.
But according to researchers at the Center for Family Research at the University of Georgia, "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."
That's right: according to the nearly 500 married individuals surveyed, two little words as simple as "thank you" could determine how long and happy a marriage is. When individuals said they felt valued by and received words of gratitude from their partners — for both small and large things — it led to feelings of happiness and stability.
"It goes to show the power of 'thank you," said Allen Barton, the study's lead author. "Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes."
It seems simplistic, but it makes sense. Having the ability to recognize and thank your partner is one of the most basic ways to communicate, and can interrupt what Barton calls "demand/withdraw communication," which occurs when "one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation," behavior that's often cited as a reason for divorce.
As the survey found, making sure your spouse knows he or she is appreciated is one of the most significant predictors of marriage quality and longevity.
See? Scientific proof that gratitude is something we should all try our best to practice. It's one of the easiest ways to overcome negative communication issues in any relationship, so start practicing now.