When it comes to giving gratitude to your partner, many of us will just say thanks when our partner does something helpful, and often we’ll do something helpful in return.
But a new study suggests there is a better way to voice your thanks; and it involves elaborating on how responsive your loved one was to your needs. This was found in both diary entries and conversation studies by psychologists.
What that means is, instead of saying “I know it was a hassle to drop me off at work, thank you,” you instead say “I wouldn’t have made it to the meeting on time if you didn’t drop me off at work, thank you.” Instead of talking about how you appreciate the burden they took on for you, you’re talking about how they helped you. This tended to produce the most positive response from a partner in the lab and in daily life.
No matter the tone, or whatever, the more your “thank you” speaks to how valued your partner is and how included in your goals they are, “the more positively the benefactor perceived the gratitude and felt toward their relationship“.
“These findings are consistent with the notion that romantic relationships are communal in nature and that giving and receiving of benefits between partners are based on responsiveness to each other’s needs,” the authors write.
“That is, benefactors are satisfied to learn that what they did met their partner’s needs precisely because their behavior was motivated by a concern for their partner’s welfare.”
The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.