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"Thank You" The Secret to Happily Ever After, Study

Update Date: Oct 26, 2015 06:09 PM EDT

Saying "thank you" may be the secret to ever after, according to a new study.

New research reveals that couples to say "thank you" more often are more satisfied and less likely to divorce compared to their less appreciative counterparts. Expressions of gratitude also helped boost marital commitment by dampening the negative effects of conflict between spouses.

"We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last," study co-author Ted Futris, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said in a news release.

Further analysis revealed that expression of gratitude significantly and consistently predicted marital quality among 468 married individuals.

"It goes to show the power of 'thank you,'" explained lead author Allen Barton, a postdoctoral research associate at UGA's Center for Family Research, according to a statement. "Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes," Barton said. 

The latest findings also suggest that "expressions of gratitude and appreciation" can boost marital stability by dampening the negative effects of demand/withdrawal conflict patterns.

"We found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability," Futris explained.

"This is the first study to document the protective effect that feeling appreciated by your spouse can have for marriages," Barton concluded. "We think it is quite important as it highlights a practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage, particularly if they are not the most adept communicators in conflict."

The findings are published in the journal Personal Relationships.

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