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The Importance of Showing Gratitude to Your Partner

By Tasha Howard, Extension Assistant ProfessorCouple cooking together

In the month of November, we celebrate the joy that comes by sharing gratitude. According to research done by Harvard Health, gratitude can make a person happier (Harvard Health, 2021). In recent years psychologists have been focusing on all the benefits that come to an individual when they create a habit of being thankful and showing gratitude. These benefits, however, are not just for the individual. Harvard Health shows that couples who show gratitude for their partner, and who express that gratitude regularly, feel more positively towards their partner (Harvard Health, 2021). Research has even shown that expressing gratitude releases oxytocin or the “love hormone” which builds a greater connection and bond between two people (Gratitude: The Simple Way to Make Your Relationship Better and Happier, 2021).

Although showing gratitude to your partner can have so many benefits, it can be difficult to find a way to do that regularly and in a meaningful way. If you struggle to find ways to show gratitude, here are some tips that may help you cultivate gratitude in your relationship. 

  1. Share compliments out loud. Have you ever caught yourself thinking something nice about your partner, such as admiring the way they look, or how they interact with you and others? Instead of keeping that thought to yourself, say it out loud. Tell your partner what you appreciated about them or what they did in the moment. 
  2. Pitch in and give your partner a break. It can be easy to forget or not notice how much effort your partner is putting into their job or at home. Show your gratitude and appreciation for your partner’s contributions by giving them a break and pitching in where you can lessen their load. 
  3. Involve your children in thanking and letting your partner know how much you appreciate them. If you have children, getting them in on the joy of practicing gratitude can be a fun habit to build as a family. Help your children recognize how much work your partner is putting in by helping them thank your partner through words, work, or even with special notes and cards. 
  4. Write out a note, text, or letter expressing appreciation and gratitude. Can you remember the last time your partner received a love message from you? Go deeper than expressing your love for them by explaining the reasons why you love them and noticing the small things they do each day that brighten up your life. 
  5. Be thankful for them, even when they aren’t there. It can be easy to get into a routine of complaining about our partners when they aren’t present. For example, if your coworkers are talking about what bothers them about their partners or expressing frustration with a home situation, your instinct may be to join in and share your complaints. Next time this happens, turn the complaining session into a gratitude session. Even though your partner may not be present to hear what you appreciate, you will have an increased level of gratitude for them and may even be able to influence those around you to have an increased level of gratitude for their partners as well. 

No matter how you choose to show gratitude and cultivate a greater sense of appreciation in your relationship, remember that it is a simple way to build and strengthen your bond. In this month of November, when we focus on gratitude and giving thanks, remember that you can strengthen your relationship just by sharing your appreciation for your partner, with your partner. 


  • Gratitude: the simple way to make your relationship better and happier. (2021). Toucan. https://toucantogether.com/blog/gratitude-the-simple-way-to-make-your-relationship-better-and-happier
  • Harvard Health. (2021, August 14). Giving thanks can make you happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
  • Parrott, D. L. A. L. (2018, February 20). 10 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Spouse. SYMBIS Assessment. https://www.symbis.com/blog/10-ways-show-gratitude-spouse/