Thank you written out to help show love language and appreciation for your partner.

Cultivating Gratitude in Relationships: Why Appreciation Can Deepen Our Connections

Liadan Gunter
January 4, 2024
November 27, 2023

Sometimes we take people for granted. We assume they’ll always be there, or we neglect to consider the effort and love they show us. The things they do for us may be smacking us right on the head, yet our mind wanders to how they could be doing more. Perhaps we look around us and see the relationships people have and daydream, thinking you wish your relationships were that way, too. This is the “grass is always greener” mindset… You once were ecstatic to meet this person or have this person in your life, but now it’s only a distant memory. 

This “grass is greener” type of mindset can be useful for situations where you may not be getting your needs met or if someone in your life isn’t treating you as they should. In those cases, it make sense to ponder what things should be different. However, this kind of thinking can get us into trouble in those healthy relationships in our lives because we forget to appreciate what we have. 

In a way, it’s biological. Animals have a way of getting used to things, good or bad. It’s a process known in science as habituation. Habituation essentially makes you less responsive to a stimulus over time. While this process may be natural to a certain degree, it’s important to remember how much you truly value the people in your life instead of taking them for granted. Failure to do so can impact the relationships with those you have around you negatively as it may lead to things like less effort, less empathy, lack of kindness, neglect, aggression, and/or a breakdown in communication, just to name a few examples. 

Practice Gratitude to Deepen Your Connections

One way to offset taking someone for granted is through practicing gratitude, which involves you showing appreciation for what is meaningful or valuable to you. Gratitude is a practice that benefits our own mental health and wellbeing as well as our connections with others. In general, it’s been found to help aid in the release of toxic emotions, reduce pain, and feelings of anxiety and depression, even substance use. There’s also evidence to suggest that having a grateful outlook is tied to social and emotional wellbeing

Just as a lack of appreciation can lead to a lack of effort, feeling gratitude has been found to focus our attention on the good things about our relationships. This intern motivates us to show gratitude, which becomes a cycle and translates into more connection. In one study, they looked at the relationship between expressing gratitude and connection among romantic partners. They found that couples who expressed more gratitude spent, on average, 68 minutes/day more time together than those who didn’t express gratitude. Another study found that gratitude also leads to more spontaneous expressions of affection between partners. 

While these are just a few examples, they point to the power gratitude has on your relationships by simply expressing that gratitude out loud. These findings also mention how gratitude encourages one to act in more loving ways, but how can we do this to maximize our connections with those we love?

Show Appreciation According to One’s Love Language 

There is actually a body of research that suggests there may be such a thing as love languages. According to Gary Chapman, the marriage counselor who wrote the book on the subject, there are five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. 

According to this theory, these are the five different ways people express love and feel loved, and not everyone communicates or feels loved in the same way. Often, our love language may have developed from the love we grew up receiving at home, or perhaps we may crave the type of love we didn’t experience. The point is everyone feels and shows love differently. 

Often, when we think of showing someone how much they mean to us, we may think about what would make us feel loved. So we may do things for them that mean love to us. In other words, we show them love in our love language. This can be great if the person shares the same love language as you. However, this is often not the case. In fact, this may lead many couples or relationships to have some issues or cause people to feel unloved simply because one is communicating love in a different language essentially. 

So, what’s the remedy? Show love to those in your life in their love language. In other words, learn their love language and your own! You can take a quiz here. 

Yes, we can also turn this the other way around and suggest that we look at how others are loving us in their love language and appreciate that. This is an important aspect, and we should absolutely do this. However, it’s equally important for those in your life to make it a priority to show you love in the way that you personally feel it and for you to do so in return.  

That means if your partner’s, friend’s, or family members' love language is acts of service, and yours is words of affirmation, you try to show them love by doing an act of service for them. Of course, you can show them words of affirmation too, because that means something to you, but the way to truly make someone feel appreciated is by showing them appreciation in the way that they feel appreciated. 

To summarize, it’s important not to take the people in your life for granted. Life is short, and none of us know how long we have together. Make it a priority to appreciate who you have in your life. This will not only improve your connections with them but also your overall wellbeing and happiness. 

You can do this by expressing gratitude to the people you care about, or by reflecting on what you appreciate about them. This aspect alone tends to lead to tangible acts of love. When you try to show love, I recommend speaking it in their language. Know their love language. Know yours. This combination can truly make a difference in creating and maintaining healthy and happy relationships with the people in your life. 

Liadan Gunter
Liadan Gunter
Liadan Maire Gunter is a Coach, Behavioral Scientist, and Founder of The Rewiring Lens. She is trained in neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, before creating her own path in the field of self-development. At Nivati, she works as a life coach and content writer where she bridges the gap between science and self-development. She also runs a company, The Rewiring Lens, aimed at bringing science-backed tools designed to rewire people’s brains so that they can create their best selves. There she co-hosts a podcast on the same subject.