Rituals of Gratitude

Create rituals of connection around thankfulness using these four ideas.


Create rituals of connection around thankfulness using these four ideas.

Create rituals of connection around thankfulness using these four ideas.

Rituals of Connection help build shared meaning within a relationship. They can look like enjoying coffee together every morning or playing board games every Saturday night. No matter the activity, you make a habit of coming together and having the same experience. It’s an essential level of the Sound Relationship House for any couple and a bonding opportunity for families.

Have you ever considered a ritual of connection centering on gratitude?

In a year fraught with stress and worry, it may be difficult to drum up anything more than a pessimistic outlook. Yet, gratitude tends to beget gratitude—meaning, the more thankful you are, the more reasons you find to be thankful.

You can be intentional about gratitude by building it into the fabric of your relationships where it helps you connect and be thankful at the same time. Here are some ways to have rituals of gratitude.

Send cards with a personalized message

In an increasingly digital world, fewer people send handwritten letters and cards through the postal mail. So, it’s a unique moment to open the mailbox and find a card. Make someone’s day by writing them a thank you note. Be specific about something the recipient did or said that made a meaningful impact on you. Have everyone sign it (kids can make a drawing or maybe your pet can add their paw print). Make it a collective effort to show someone just how much their kindness meant to you. Having trouble coming up with the words? Let The Gottman Institute help with Sound Relationship Postcards.

Use birthdays as a way to say thanks

Everyone deserves to feel special on their birthday. As you gather, whether you meet in person or virtually, take a moment to tell the birthday person one reason you’re thankful for them. Every person can take turns. It’s a tradition you can do every year. You’ll enjoy seeing how the reasons change over time and which delightful ones stay the same.

Create your thank you gift

Show gratitude by using your artistic skills. You don’t have to be good at arts and crafts. Watch an online video about how to make something creative like a piece of jewelry or a scarf. Many hands make light work so get everyone involved. You can create handmade gifts and have fun doing it.

End every night with an expression of gratitude

Instead of reaching for your phone and scrolling until you drift off, take those final precious moments of your day to connect with your partner. Share something that happened for which you’re grateful. Were you thankful that a major work project launched without a hitch? Did a trip to the vet for your pup turn out to be nothing serious? Talk about it, no matter how small or big. It’s a positive way to end the day and a special moment to share with your partner. Also, it’s another pin on your Love Map that your partner can note that lets them learn more about you.

When rituals of gratitude are a normal part of both your routine and your special events, you connect with those around you in a way that benefits everyone. The experience you share with your partner and/or your children becomes a meaningful time of bonding. So say thank you, say it often, and say it together.

Share, show, and speak your love! Take your relationship off of auto-pilot and shift into loving out loud. In this all-new series of exercises, activities, and videos, Drs. John and Julie Gottman can show you how to love your partner even better. Check out Loving Out Loud and upgrade your relationship today.

The Gottman Institute’s Editorial Team is composed of staff members who contribute to the Institute’s overall message. It is our mission to reach out to individuals, couples, and families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships.