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Over time, you may become less accustomed to recognizing acts of service and love that are performed in your relationship. When you feel less appreciated for what you do, you may feel less motivated to extend yourself than you used to. For some, misinterpreting an act of service (“why would he think I want that?”), feeling indebted (“now I have to do something”), or feeling resentment (“she just wants something from me”) become outcomes of kind gestures. If this starts happening in your relationship, you may begin to experience a loss of love and work as a result.

Thank You on wooden blocks

    It is important to make sure feelings of indebtedness are not created and kept between you and your partner. You will begin to feel more concerned about what you need to give back when you receive a ‘gift.’ If you give with the expectation of receiving something, the obligation actually makes you appear less attractive to your partner! However, if you feel gratitude towards one another, you will be more likely to desire spending time together and building a close relationship together.

     There are also some gender differences. Women tend to be more empathetic and have a more accurate judgment of the meaning of nonverbal cues (i.e. body language, tone of voice, facial expressions). Similarly, women may be more aware of the care, or lack of care, that went along with the ‘gift’ that was given, which could more easily lead to feelings of resentment. In contrast, men are more likely to expect that interactions will be structured hierarchically or in other words, may perceive the gift-giver as having great power in the relationship. Consequently, a man may experience more indebtedness for a ‘gift’ than a woman, unless he experiences gratitude as well.

    It is quite possible that household chores may come to mind when you think of a lack of gratitude. Frequently, women, but a growing number of men also, bear the bulk of the domestic responsibilities. Very much in the same way that an employee can feel frustrated, and even experience a range of psychological health symptoms, if he or she is not adequately recognized for the effort put forth, a partner who carries the bulk of the domestic responsibilities but is not adequately recognized for these efforts will also struggle. Did you know that a lack of recognition of effort can produce stress, resentment, and detachment?

     In the end, grateful partners are key to a more satisfied romantic relationship!