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KEEPIN' LOVE ALIVE: A gift of gratitude

KEEPIN' LOVE ALIVE: A gift of gratitude

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Many quotes and life experiences have taught all of us about the impact of repetition. It is in this spirit that I share with you, again, one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities for couples. It’s a simple but powerful way to help keep love alive (and benefits physical health too) by harnessing the power of gratitude.

Mark Anderson is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy at Oregon Trail Mental Health in Scottsbluff. To contact him call 3…

In a world with so much confusion, fear, hate and depression, such feelings of gratitude are a welcomed break from the stress of daily life. Unfortunately, it seems those feelings of gratitude are an exception and not the norm of how most people feel nowadays.

When studying high functioning couples, however, research shows they are able to establish a relationship where feelings of gratitude are often felt. This culture of appreciation becomes a rewarding experience and welcomed break from the often-difficult world.

This actually helps strengthen the relationship as couples look forward to a partner who helps lower their stress instead of raise it. Recent studies show that such relationships are even good for one’s physical health since they help reduce stress, and I’m sure we’d all welcome a boost in our immune systems now with the ongoing and serious threat of COVID still running rampant.

Thankfully, in a world of negativity and fear, such a relationship is possible to establish. And how to do so is summed up well by Robert Anderson, who wrote “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, the grounds for marriage.”

Such positive perspective helps couples enjoy their relationship, build the friendship, and establish what research calls a culture of appreciation when they choose to focus on the positives, not the negatives, of their relationship. The results of such a culture are feelings of gratitude, lower stress, and more happiness.

Couples who are interested in establishing such a culture of appreciation can start today and be well on their way, and have a nice, inexpensive gift to give their partner this Thanksgiving, too.

Step one is simply to start noticing the positives. In each relationship more positive exists than we notice. Simply slowing down to notice all those positives is step one in increasing our gratitude.

Years ago I drove the back roads to Cheyenne with a friend. I was amazed how many beautiful things he pointed out during that drive. Certain things about the scenery I never noticed, birds I hadn’t seen, and animals off in the distance.

I had taken that drive many times and found it rather dull and boring. Clearly, the scenery hadn’t changed since my last drive, he just had eyes to see the beauty I had been missing.

So many of us do the same in our marriage. We get busy and driven and forget to slow down and see the beauty right there in front of us. What a waste of unacknowledged beauty.

Maybe it’s the fact that your partner always helps with the dishes. Maybe they always clear the dinner plates so you can sit down and rest after a hard day. Maybe they always have your coffee ready for you in the mornings, or ask how your day was, and really listen, after the five o’clock whistle blows each day.

Research shows that miserable couples miss almost fifty percent of the positives happening in their relationship. What a waste of positives that could otherwise be used to help miserable couples see the good and be happy again.

To boost your gratitude, improve your relationship, and increase your friendship, open your eyes this week and notice the positives, and take notes.

Write down your observations, your gratitude, and your appreciations for your partner, and share it with them Thanksgiving Day. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be long. Some of the most beautiful and impactful words are short and sweet.

This week people will be grateful for many things. A day off work, a big fat turkey, and a time to sleep in and watch a football game or two. We will take at least one day to slow down and be grateful before the rat race of Christmas shopping begins.

When we take the power of Thanksgiving and harness it to include noticing, and writing down, and then sharing our gratitude for our partners many actions, we are well on our way to developing an attitude of gratitude that helps keep love (and health) alive all year long.

For more tips on keeping your love alive, visit www.panhandlecouples.com.

Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.

Mark Anderson is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy. He is in private practice in Scottsbluff at Oregon Trail Mental Health. He can be reached at 635-2800 or online at www.panhandlecouples.com.

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