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Abstract

Recent literature on the function of gratitude extends the known benefits of this practice beyond facilitating exchanges in social life and explains how it plays a significant role in close relationships, such as marriage. This article examines how the emotion of gratitude helps individuals develop, maintain, and increase bonds with a high-quality partner in a close relationship in a variety of ways. For instance, gratitude is key in promoting relationship maintenance behaviors, such as responsiveness and commitment, and signaling feelings of appreciation between partners that can provide a sense of security and help partners to recognize the value of a mutually desirable relationship. However, research reveals that people with an ungrateful disposition can act as a weak link in couples’ gratitude processes, and without increasing their gratitude through effort, can demonstrate decreased marital satisfaction. Perceptions of insincere gratitude can be related to a decline in marital satisfaction as well. Couples who often express sincere gratitude tend to be more responsive to partners’ needs, which is positively related to greater relationship satisfaction. Thus, gratitude is a mechanism that can remind couples of their love for one another and bind them closer together, functioning as a communal process that can result in positive outcomes for the well-being of the marital relationship.

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