We all know how important it is to feel and express gratitude for the abundance in our lives and the love we share with others. According to the Law of Attraction, attention and focus will bring more of the same. As Dr. John Demartini reminds us, “Whatever we think about and thank about, we bring about.”
This is easy to do when you’re snuggled up with your mate watching a movie. It’s no problem when you and your partner have just made love. Appreciation automatically arises when you two have cooperated on a big project.
It’s no sweat to gaze at your partner and feel an inward swell of love and gratitude when all is harmonious and you two are close and connected.
But what about those other times?
What happens when your beloved forgets to pay the electric bill (again)? What about the times when your partner is stressed out and snaps at you or withdraws? And how about those moments when you look at your partner and don’t necessarily like what you see?
These other times happen in a love relationship or marriage. In fact, sometimes they happen more frequently than we want them to.
You reach into your gratitude “bag” and you come up empty. You want to feel grateful for your partner but, frankly, he or she isn’t making it easy. You know you “should” and you believe that your partner deserves your gratitude, but you’re just not feeling it.
Gratitude isn’t something you can force or pretend; either you feel it or you don’t. Just because you can’t make yourself feel grateful in a difficult moment, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. There’s actually a lot you can do to cultivate gratitude for your partner and it has amazing effects for you and your relationship too.
Is gratitude worth the effort?
Let’s say your partner has been going through a really tough time. He lost his job and feels miserable. He’s questioning his value, feels unqualified and he’s taking it out on you. He seems resentful that your career is going smoothly and that your self-confidence is strong. Your helpful advice is met with grunts or sarcasm and so you’ve stopped offering it. You’ve actually stopped talking to him much at all and this scares you. Will your relationship survive this?
In a scenario like this, the question, “Is cultivating gratitude worth the effort?” comes to mind.
Our answer is a resounding “YES!” Gratitude is not only worth the effort, it’s the secret to turning any challenge around. You can’t solve the internal crisis your partner is experiencing, but you can make sure that you’re adding support and uplifting energy to a challenging situation.
When a crisis happens and even when your partner is unpleasant to be around, it’s your shift away from trying to “fix” things or to commiserate and towards gratitude that can make a positive difference.
It’s your genuine gratitude that reminds your partner that he (or she) IS valuable. It’s your gratitude that shows how confident you are that your beloved will figure this out.
Open up to “yes…and”
You have to believe your own words when you express gratitude for your partner and it starts inside you.
Don’t say “I’m grateful for how much you do around the house” when you actually feel resentful because your mate left dirty dishes for you to do and ignored the piles of papers and stuff everywhere.
This is confusing to both of you because your words and your emotions don’t match. Your partner will sense– immediately or later– that you don’t really feel grateful and that you want more cooperation with keeping the house clean and picked up.
Instead, invite yourself to acknowledge the truth of what you see and to look at the bigger picture too.
Tell yourself, “I’m frustrated because my partner did not wash the dinner dishes from last night…” (pause and take a deep breath) “…And I am grateful that she spent quality time with our son helping him prepare for a test at school.”
When you expand your view of your partner, you can be honest about your current emotions while also reminding yourself that there’s more to your mate than just that thing you’re so angry and irritated about.
Be a “good-finder”
Expanding your view to include other aspects of who your partner is and what he or she does helps you be a “good-finder.” It’s a perspective changer. Instead of looking at your partner with mostly a critical or judgmental eye, you’re now intentionally trying to find the positives that you value and that make your life richer.
Being a “good-finder” is not about denying the dirty dishes piled in the sink or your partner’s miserable mood. It’s the habit of noticing what makes you smile, what supports, what adds to your relationship and life that’s there too– along with the other stuff.
When you’re a “good-finder,” gratitude comes easily and it feels wonderful to both of you.