A four-year research study found that gratitude contributes to a mutual process of relationship maintenance, in which each partner’s maintenance behaviors, perceptions of responsiveness, and feelings of gratitude feed back on and influence the other partner’s behaviors, perceptions, and feelings. In other words when a spouse felt gratitude towards the other, and they expressed that gratitude in some external way, this outward expression produced and influenced the other spouse’s feelings and behaviors of gratitude. This process between the two spouses was like a continuous feedback loop because gratitude motivates partners to engage in relationship maintenance.
Feeling gratitude without expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
After reading this article, I started thinking about my relationship with my husband. I examined my acts of gratitude and relationship maintenance. I believe I am consistent and sincere when I express how much I appreciate him and everything he does for me. I am conscious of my behavior simply because my husband constantly shows me gratitude and I want to do the same to him. Actually he is good at showing everyone (who deserves it) gratitude. Anyone that knows him will attest to that. Based on this research, I’m sure that I conscientiously show him gratitude in many ways, because it is a natural response to his gratuitous behavior towards me.
So, the next time someone does something nice for you, don’t forget express your gratitude…it’s as easy as saying Thank You!
As long as I can remember I’ve been a runner. As a child I loved running and racing, and now as an adult I couldn’t imagine enjoying anything more except for being married. Running is hard, very hard a times. It’s much more mental for me than most would believe. The night before, I mentally set precedence for the mileage I will run the next day. If I’m feeling tired, then I mentally calculate how I will feel the next day during my run, and thus set a mileage goal. The same goes with being married. I decide if I want to get an attitude about something, or if I want to approach my husband as an adult and tell him what’s bothering me…it’s all mental.
Sometimes, I will have my mind-set on something, like what I think we should or shouldn’t do as a couple. Then a funny thing will happen, just like during a run I realize, I have sold myself short. Instead of only doing 3 miles, I feel good enough to continue and push through to 5 miles. Instead of being one tracked and thinking I know best all the time, I realize I have actually limited our growth as a couple because I was too stubborn to see past me. During those times, I reset my thinking to that which is essential to our goals as a couple and my growth as a wife.
So you see, for me running/marriage are both very similar. They are repetitive, pleasurable, and with practice you get better over time. Running/marriage feel great on good days, sometimes painful on those occasional ‘not so good’ days, and just right on those ‘in between’ days. But I stay focused and continue to progress as a wife and as a runner, because they are a part of who I am, what I love, and what I believe in.
What aspect of your life do you believe is similar to marriage?
I’m 5 weeks into my current course, Managing Organizational Systems and Complexity, which I have mixed reviews about depending on the day of the week. There have been readings and assignments that I absolutely love, and others that I could care less about. One of the readings that I really enjoyed and applied was in week two, when we had to read chapter 9 titled Mental Models the book The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge.
Senge defines mental models as, “the deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, and even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world. Since how we act is based on our impressions of our surrounding environment, it’s imperative that we recognize and re-evaluate our mental models and preconceived assumptions.” Simply put a mental model is explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. Our mental models help shape our behavior and define our approach to solving problems and carrying out tasks.
For example, at work you might think, “My boss believes I’m incapable of managing this project.” Yet you never ask my boss directly about it. You would simply go out of your way to try continually to make yourself look capable to your boss. Another example is, “My boss is impatient and believes in quick and dirty solutions,” so you go out of my way to give him simple solutions even though you don’t think they really get to the heart of difficult solutions.
I got to thinking about the mental model that I have of Dr. B, and the ones that he might have of me. Do I think that he doesn’t care because he always has a black and white solution to a problem, or does he think that I’m hotheaded and temperamental because I display passion when discussing a topic that is dear to me? So, if we are carrying around the mental models of each other how are they affecting our behavior towards each other?
As newlyweds it is important to distinguish between direct observations, and generalizations taken from our observations of our spouses. There are ways you can approach a conversation with your spouse about your mental models; such as owning up to your own assumptions about your spouse, and citing your observations upon which they are based. This in turn will help reduce the chances of a defensive reaction from your spouse.
What mental models do you think you have of your spouse, and what mental model do you think they have of you?