Two Words That Have Improved My Marriage

Early in my marriage, my husband and I were not as focused on gratitude as we are today. Back then I did not thank him for mowing the lawn, and he did not thank me for cleaning the house. As a result, deep down, I think we both felt less appreciated than we should have. It’s not that we didn’t appreciate each other, but we had the mindset of “that’s just her job” or “that’s just his job.”

Now that we understand the impact that gratitude can have on a marriage, we make every effort to say “thank you” many times a day. It’s more second nature than an extraordinary effort, but when I make dinner, he always says, “Thank you for dinner,” (and encourages the kids to do the same). And when he’s been out collecting leaves for the tenth time this fall, I always compliment him on how nice the yard looks and how hard he worked. We say thanks for everyday things, like going to the grocery store, emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, or taking the kids to tennis lessons. He thanks me for holding down the fort while he’s traveling, and I thank him for helping me with a computer problem.

Expressing gratitude doesn’t just make the recipient feel good, it makes the giver more aware of all the actions and efforts that the spouse is doing. It makes you both feel better about your relationship, and it adds more positivity to your interactions.  (Remember, Dr. John Gottman says it takes five positive for every one negative interaction to keep marriage strong. Read about the 5:1 ratio.)

Don’t wait for your spouse to start thanking you for all the great stuff you do. Just start thanking your spouse for all the little things that often go unnoticed, and the important stuff, too: for being a good provider, for taking good care of the kids, for getting the car oil changed, for making sure you have clean underwear in your drawer, for making you feel loved, for keeping the house organized…Surely you can think of a few things to thank your spouse for today.

A special “thanks” and “happy birthday!” to my dear hubby who has been especially helpful to me recently as I’ve been more busy than usual with my book coming out.  It’s hard to believe we’ve now been together for half of our lives. (Well, almost for me.) Read about the power of gratitude in reducing rates of breakups.

With Thanksgiving coming up this week in America, you might even consider writing a thank-you toast to publicly honor your spouse and/or other family members for how they have encouraged you or made your life brighter. I know we have many readers outside the U.S. who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving; don’t wait for a holiday to express your thankfulness.

Send a text or e-mail, leave a note, or just tell your sweetheart “thank you.” Share one thing in the comments that you are thankful for today from your spouse.

Photo by Felixco, Inc. courtesy of

11 responses to “Two Words That Have Improved My Marriage

  1. I thought it was “I’m sorry.”

  2. I know that hearing “Thank you!” always makes me feel good, especially if it is something that has become “just my job”. So I try to tell my wife thanks every chance I get, even though there are still many missed opportunities.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  3. JW, that’s also important but Thank You happens much more often. Matthew, I agree that it makes us each feel good. And that positive feeling is what helps the marriage.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. Funny enough I just sent hubby a text this morning saying thank you for being attentive to changes in my mood and for having a listening ear. Its so easy to forget that no matter what our spouses do, it is a choice they make because they love us. I love your blog. Its such a blessing.

  5. Well stated,. we all want to be appreciated. Let me add one word that you should eliminate from your vocabulary with your spouse, the word no. No is such an ugly word (unless of course if the request is illegal, immoral or
    abusive). It implies that your partner’s wants and needs are secondary to your superior ones.

    Most women grow up with the fantasy of “happily ever after” but it is largely a self centered and narcissistic one with little thought given to what that looks like for the guy. If you want happily ever after, ask your man what that looks like to him and then do your dead level best to give it to him and then you can actually get “happily ever after”.

    John Wilder

  6. Great post Lori. Simple, and to the point….but worth so much more than just two simple words.
    The absence of thanks is eventually arrogance and selfishness.

    • I suppose you’re right–we begin to take things for granted and feel we deserve them. Saying thanks shows appreciation and the fact that our partner has a choice whether to do each loving action. Good point.

  7. Pingback: How to Have Your TURKEYS & Eat It, Too! « Books in the Burbs

  8. The two words that are making my marriage better is “Kiss Me”. My husband is so easy..LOL

  9. Pingback: 6 Habits for Happy Lives & Marriages | Marriage Gems

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