Gratitude: The Heart-Beat of Love

Couple sitting on a couch

A little gratitude goes a long way when it comes to happy marriages.

New research validates age-old wisdom: the simple habit of gratitude can transform a jaded marriage into a joyous encounter. | By Marilyn Rodrigues

A University of North Carolina study highlighted the association of gratitude with a happy marriage. Cameron Gordon, the study’s lead author, said that the goodwill generated by grateful spouses creates a “reciprocal feedback loop” of marital harmony. This helps spouses to view their interactions, even on bad days, in a positive light.

The participants, 50 couples married for an average of 21 years, reported high relationship satisfaction after feeling gratitude towards their spouse, whether they had expressed it or not. Gordon said that this showed that gratitude can go hand in hand with marital satisfaction, and that “the more appreciative you are, the happier you’ll be”.

Another study in which couples recorded their daily interactions and feelings about their relationship over a two week period found similar results. The authors noted that gratitude, “may help to turn ordinary moments into opportunities for relationship growth, even in the context of already close, communal relations”.

Tips for an Attitude of Gratitude

  1. Gratitude Jar | Each week, write down some event or encounter that you are grateful for and add it to the jar. At the end of the year or on a special family gathering, take turns to read the entries and reconnect with the year’s grateful moments.
  2. Pray for a grateful heart | Our every breath, every heartbeat is sustained by God as a pure and gracious gift. Ask God to point out for you the blessings in your life, to open your eyes to the gifts given to you each day.
  3. Read | Try reading one of the Psalms of thanksgiving, such as Psalm 104, or the autobiographies of people who have thrived despite experiencing great tragedy.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal | In the evening record three things you were grateful for that day. “Today I was grateful for…” or “The good things which happened today were…”.  For some inspiration, check out
  5. Consider those who are less fortunate than yourself | Find out about initiatives in your area which assist people in situations of disadvantage. Is there some way you could involve yourself in supporting them?  eg volunteering, writing a letter to the local MP or media outlet, praying.

A Story

Developing a positive approach to life generally enhances relationships. It is often linked to a longer, happier life.

Alice Hertz-Sommer, the oldest Holocaust survivor, lost her entire family except for her son, all of her friends and her family’s friends to the Nazi regime in Czechoslovakia. “This (her optimism) is the reason I am so old, even now, I am sure,” she told the UK’s Sunday Express last year after turning 107.
“I know about the bad things, but I look only for the good things. The world is wonderful, it’s full of beauty and miracles, art and music.”


Reflections for Couples

Consider these reflection questions for fostering an attitude of gratitude towards your spouse each day:

  1. What chores does he/she do on a routine basis that I am happy not to have to do myself?
  2. What was the nicest thing he/she has said or done recently?
  3. When do I feel valued by him/her)?
  4. What are two of his/her qualities for which I am most grateful?


Did you know?…that St Valentine’s Day is specifically for married couples?

Australia’s bishops have reclaimed the day’s original meaning, which was to celebrate the sacredness of marriage. St Valentine was executed in the arena on February 14, 269AD. The Italian bishop’s crime was celebrating weddings after the Roman ruler Claudius decreed they be suspended. He did this so as to gain more unattached men for his armies. Check out the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council website for the full St Valentine’s Day Kit.

As Featured in the February 2011 edition of the CathFamily E-Magazine.

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Marilyn Rodrigues

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