Strengthen Your Relationship by Showing Gratitude

Love Letters from Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. – November is a month marked by giving thanks. Families will soon gather around Thanksgiving tables and express gratitude for the good graces and positive people in their lives. For those in committed relationships, this is also a perfect time to remember the importance of giving thanks for one another.

Catholic Charities of Kansas’ Marriage for Keeps program and its Love Letters from Kansas public awareness campaign encourage couples to learn new ways to express their mutual gratitude on Thanksgiving and every other day of the year. Taking time to do so will likely result in a healthy pattern of sincerity and warmth in relationships.

“Expressing gratitude is a simple step that can make a big difference in your relationship,” said Mike Burrus, executive director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Wichita. “This could be as small as saying thank you and recognizing the little things he or she does for you. The free relationship education and marriage enrichment workshops we hold across the state help individuals and couples learn new ways to show appreciation in their relationships and, as a result, strengthen their connection to each other.”

“Maintaining Close Relationships: Gratitude as a Motivator and Detector of Maintenance Behavior”, a 2011 study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researched gratitude expressed between 190 married couples over four years. Researchers determined that gratitude in relationships typically works in a cyclical manner: when one person in the relationship provides special attention and care for the other, the person receiving that attention feels a sense of gratitude and typically expresses it by providing special consideration and care in return. Kind actions inspire thankfulness and a desire to reciprocate, creating a positive circle of care between the two people in the relationship.

For example, if you are a wife with a husband who doesn’t want to miss the big football games on Thanksgiving, you might rework dinner plans to not overlap with game time. Your husband will likely feel thankful for your thoughtfulness and in turn be more inclined to do something meaningful for you, such as helping with meal preparation or cleaning before guests arrive.

Every relationship is different, but here are a few suggestions from psychologist Nathan Feiles, LCSW, that can make a big difference in fostering gratitude and behaviors that enrich your relationship:

  • Recognize little things: There are numerous opportunities to thank your better half throughout the day: while making breakfast, washing dishes, picking up the kids, etc. Take a few of those moments to express gratitude for his or her help.

  • Give back: For every “take” in a relationship it’s important to give back. It’s not necessary to keep score and giving as much as possible can only help your significant other feel more valued.

  • Do a favor: Favors might involve things your significant other likes or wants but might not enjoy doing as much. For example, cook a great meal or wash the car if they’re not up for the tasks.

  • A small, meaningful gift: A present doesn’t have to be expensive. Try to give sentimental items such as a framed love note or a favorite dessert the two of you shared early on in your relationship.

What ways do you express gratitude in your committed relationship? Catholic Charities of Kansas encourages you to share them on its Love Letters from Kansas Facebook page at

Through its Marriage for Keeps Program, Catholic Charities of Kansas offers a variety of free support services to help individuals and couples learn how to show gratitude for one another and explore other ideas to improve their relationships. Relationship education and marriage enrichment workshops are open to singles and couples of all faiths who are looking for tips and tools to enrich existing or future relationships. Find more information on upcoming workshops, as well as other resources to improve relationships, at

About Catholic Charities of Kansas and the Love Letters from Kansas campaign:
In October 2011, Catholic Charities of Kansas received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance to provide free relationship education workshops and services to meet family needs throughout Kansas. This grant expands current Catholic Charities of Kansas Marriage for Keeps workshops and services offered in Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend, Wichita, Pittsburg, Salina, Manhattan, Junction City, Ft. Riley, Topeka, Lawrence, Emporia and Kansas City. These workshops and services include relationship (Within My Reach) and marital (Within Our Reach) education, assistance with accessing community services, employment and career development and parenting classes. Spanish-speaking workshops are also available. The Love Letters from Kansas public awareness campaign educates Kansans on the value of marriage and relationship stability for communities across the state as well as encourages enrollment in local relationship education workshops offered by Catholic Charities of Kansas. For more information, visit

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