Financial issues are a great source of tension in many people’s lives. Students may have to take out loans in order to cover the cost of tuition, housing, and books. Couples may struggle to afford mortgages or rent costs. New parents feel the joy of their baby mixed with the pain of medical bills. It seems no matter who you are, it’s hard to avoid money problems.
Unfortunately, financial strain can take a great toll on relationships. Statistics indicate that the #1 topic of argument in relationships is money, and money is often linked as a significant cause for divorce. The big question is: if everyone struggles with finances at some point, how can we keep our relationships from suffering?
A study by Barton, Futris, and Nielson discusses one key tactic for reducing financial based conflict within marriages.
When gratitude is expressed regularly in relationships, the strain of finances is lessened. While it may seem more important to receive gratitude, than to express it, the study found that for both men and women, relationships become more stable when each partner expresses gratitude and when they perceive their partner to be appreciative towards them in return. This key element of gratitude in relationships troubled by financial issues made tumultuous situations into successful ones. In short, the expression of reciprocal gratitude between partners is linked to better commitment.
So how can we practice being more grateful towards our partners?
Keep a daily “Gratitude Journal”
Writing down things that your partner does that you appreciate is helpful in a few ways:
- It helps you to remember the things you notice. It can be easy to be grateful for something your partner did in the moment, but then completely forget about it by the end of the day. Writing things in a journal can help you remember things you appreciate and to express gratitude about them later.
- While it may be hard to think of things at the beginning, over time your ability to recognize and record things will increase. You may only get one or two things written down the first time you try, but within a month have a list of ten or twelve.
- Having a record of things you appreciate about your partner will help you to stay cool when things are going poorly. It’s easy to forget the good things about a relationship when issues arise, but having a record of all the wonderful things your partner does can help you remember why you love them in the face of conflict.
While it may seem tempting to steer clear of money-related issues completely, or to only focus on finances when writing a gratitude journal, making sure that you look for things you are grateful for in both categories has two benefits. First, having gratitude towards a partner for things related to finances illuminates a positive side of the struggle; you have confidence in your partner in at least one aspect of this trial. Second, showing gratitude for things unrelated to money indicates that there is more to the relationship than financial issues. Both can reduce stress and anxiety for both partners. Avoiding a problem completely doesn’t solve it, but neither does focusing on it entirely.
Set aside time to express gratitude
Having a daily or weekly check-in time between partners can help couples express gratitude on a regular basis and increase their intimacy. Couples could set aside 10 minutes at the end of a day for partners to discuss things that were hard or wonderful about their day, and to express gratitude and love for each other. This can help couples who are having a difficult time remember what it is about their partner that they love and appreciate. It is too easy to get caught up in everything that is wrong and neglect the good parts of the relationship. If finances have gotten in the way of intimacy, setting aside this time can be an opportunity to forget worries for 10 minutes at a time, and can help intimacy be built back up between partners.
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Written by: Melece