The Magic Words That Will Improve Your Relationship

couple talking in coffee shop
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Say Thank You to Improve Your Relationship

Growing up, I was constantly told that “please" was the magic word for getting what you wanted. Usually I would start by demanding. Then move on to asking. Then, when the magic word was requested, I would grudgingly, or pleadingly depending on the situation, finally say it. As an adult, I've found that please is still very important. Ask for something without it and you sound like a jerk. But for relationships, the words that are even more important are “thank you."

A 2007 study by researchers at Arizona State University found that married couples who had a higher degree of satisfaction in their relationship said they regularly felt appreciated by their partner. And more than simply intuiting that appreciation, they actually had it confirmed verbally—i.e. their partners made sure to say “thank you." And they said it often.

One of the things that's great about a serious relationship is that you get to a point where a lot of communication becomes non-verbal. You know each other so well that you can intuit their response to a given situation. This kind of profound connection has its advantages, not least of which is a deeper-level feeling of being known by someone. And yet, getting a little verbal confirmation once in a while is still necessary. Too much non-verbal communication can leave us susceptible to doubt. Words, on the other hand, can alleviate that doubt.

In terms of cost-benefit, saying thank you should be a no-brainer. Ostensibly you do feel appreciative of your partner, right? And barring laryngitis or a mouth full of food, uttering those two simple one-syllable words is just about the easiest thing you can ever do. Emotionally it's not exactly a sacrifice either. If anything it should be a default reaction to any moment you feel thankful for. After all, you probably say it reflexively to barristas when they hand you your coffee every morning, so saying it to the person you share your life with should be pretty painless.

If you aren't already, get in the habit of audible appreciation. Whether your partner cooked dinner or picked up some of the slack in the household chores or complimented you on what you were wearing, just say thank you. Out loud and in front of them. Don't just assume they know you appreciate them. They probably do, but that doesn't change the fact that a little verbal reinforcement can go a long way. Just two simple words: “thank" and “you."


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