Tim Richards   -  


For the past 25 years I have used a marital survey designed and developed in 1977 by Prepare Enrich when I counsel couples. It helps people prepare for marriage and assists married couples who are struggling. I am far from alone; pastors and counselors have used this resource with more than 4 million couples.

A recent post by the Prepare Enrich team entitled, 4 Ways Gratitude Helps You Be a Better Spouse, makes this point, “A wealth of research has been done… showing that gratitude has a positive effect on social, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.” As I read this, I realize gratitude affects us whether we are married or not. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving let me share four ways gratitude can help us become better people.

First, gratitude prevents us from taking one another for granted. Being appreciative dramatically affects our relationship with our spouse, but it is even more significant, it impacts our attitude in ways not immediately obvious. It helps us appreciate our family, friends, neighbors, and even affects our attitude toward our job.

Second, gratitude helps us keep things in proper perspective. When we are thankful, we more easily focus on life’s positives instead of only our frustrations. This does not mean we ignore or minimize what is bad, but it means we do not become so focused on our problems we see nothing else.

Third, multiple studies show how gratitude can help us be more satisfied with our relationships. When we are happier with those around us, we focus less on the little frustrations which are part of all relationships. Gratitude has a major impact on how we respond to those around us.

Finally, expressing thanks to others helps us combat resentfulness. When we are grateful, we deal better with the minor things which annoy us. We are less likely to harbor a grudge and we relate to others in healthier ways.

These positive benefits may be why the Apostle Paul could write this about the value of focusing on what is good, “…I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8, The Message) Though Paul neither uses the words “thankful” nor “gratitude” they are implied when he says we are to focus on “things to praise…”

God wants us to understand how having an attitude of thankfulness can pay huge dividends. Thanksgiving offers us a yearly opportunity to be more grateful. It is always appropriate to thank God, however, when we show gratitude to both him and others, we not only honor our Creator we make life better for others as well as for ourselves.