It’s easy for long-term relationships to minimize the value of appreciation. The constant exchange of giving and taking makes it seem less important to say thank you.
You stop by the pharmacy in the morning to pick up your partner her prescriptions. Later, your partner cooks dinner. Your partner won’t be surprised if you run an errand on their behalf, nor will you tell them how much you appreciate your partner’s cooking. Why should you? Isn’t it obvious that people do things together in a relationship?
Wood and others suggest that gratitude is important for a relationship. This is not just because it fosters positive emotions between partners but also because acknowledging what your partner does is a reinforcement of the idea that your partner is more than an object.
Contrary to the notion that your partner is an “instrumental” person who serves only as a means of an end, the SRM advocated a “relational” view. This suggests you look at how much your partner actually defines your sense of self. These relationships will remain relational throughout time.
In societies that value individuality, it might be more normal for people to worry about “losing themselves” within their relationships. The authors say that individuals tend to put their relationships first and themselves first when they are individuated.
If you have understood this far, you may now be curious about the role of gratitude in SRM. This is where the second key point of the author comes into play.
This means you will feel just as responsible for their help as you would for them if they were in trouble. Recognizing your partner’s efforts to alleviate stress is a way to show gratitude.
Testing the Strong Relationship Model
All these components form the SRM. This creates a system that promotes ethical responsiveness, which is the process that links stress to quality relationships. Ethically responsive partners show empathy by expressing gratitude, support, and kindness to others. This encourages “relational connectivity,” which, in turn, promotes feelings of intimacy, belonging, and friendship. A partner who does not respond, acting primarily in self-interest, will view the others as a nuisance and a means to their ends.
Showing Gratitude in Your Relationship
As you can see, even small acts of gratitude or recognition could have huge effects on your relationship. Although the study is focused on more philosophical questions like identity as well as self-definition, their findings have concrete, practical implications.
Take a moment to reflect on the daily acts that you and/or your partner show each other. Take the example of your partner cooking dinner. You could simply eat the meal and not make any comments, or you could comment on how you enjoyed it. You don’t have the right to express your gratitude, but you can make a specific observation and show your appreciation to your partner for their efforts.
Imagine further that your partner made dinner while you were busy with work during the day and/or attending a number of events. It is important, based on SRM that you acknowledge how much this means.
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