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Gratitude

Last weekend found me googling I hate my spouse. Mr. Bunny had done something to make me totally livid and I was consumed with loathing.

You’ll be shocked to learn that googling I hate my spouse doesn’t lead to a whole lot of productive reading. I saw a few Internet Objects with the basic flavor of i hate my husband & want 2 murder him what shud i do? and then decided to take a different tack. Perhaps refreshing my knowledge of the factors that predict marital satisfaction would help.

Not that we know what predicts marital satisfaction. So many variables–SES, personality, conflict resolution style, gender identity and gender roles, blah blah blah. I suppose I just wanted to read something empirical that would make me feel better about myself. Like a paper titled, Occasional loathing of spouse does not predict divorce.

Phew, I’d say.

It took a while to find what I wanted (lots of things like Korean pastors and their wives’ marital satisfaction and its predicting factors–could you get more specific, please?), but I did. It turned out to be a paper about gratitude. In this study, participants who felt more gratitude towards their spouses also had higher marital satisfaction ratings.  Intriguingly, feeling gratitude predicted your partner’s martial satisfaction, whereas actually expressing that gratitude didn’t. As Gordon and colleagues write, “…having an inward experience of individual gratitude appears more relevant to the spouse’s happiness than actually expressing gratitude outwardly to that spouse.” (Gordon, Arnette, & Smith, 2011, p. 342).

After reading this paper, I used my laptop for good instead of evil, and booked Mr. Bunny a night in a hotel. He’s pretty swamped at work and could use a break. (I know, all I had to do was FEEL gratitude, but sometimes it’s hard to stop…) And I’ve been trying to combat my feelings of annoyance with feelings of gratitude.

Meanwhile, that very day, a friend of Mr. Bunny’s was suffering a sudden and catastrophic stroke, falling into a coma, and being DNRed off this mortal coil. Leaving her husband utterly stunned and bereft.

Psychologists have a whole theory (well, many, but here’s one) discussing the work we humans have to do to keep thoughts of death at bay–it’s called terror management theory. The basic idea is that we can’t possibly be continually aware of our mortality or we won’t be able to function, so we’ve evolved defense mechanisms to keep those thoughts largely unconscious. So I’m not suggesting we all go around thinking  MY LOVED ONE MIGHT DIE AT ANY MOMENT SO I SHOULD NOT BE AN ASSHOLE. That’s not going to fly.

I guess I was just struck by the fact that there’s gratitude (yay, he got gas!) and GRATITUDE (this life is so fucking fragile).

 

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. SRB #

    Oy! I was really like YES ME TOO on the first line of this post. And now, at the end? I’m like YES ME TOO.

    Very sorry to hear of this sudden, stunning loss. XO

    October 31, 2014
  2. You do have a way with words that makes commenting on your posts very difficult. What else can I say to this post?! I hope you don’t lose gratitude from sight any time soon, and that you are not reminded by it by another tragic loss.

    November 1, 2014
  3. One of the many things I love about you is you think through oathing with reasoning and rationalization. I wish I could be more like you in that way. I spend hours and days seething. Not finding gratitude which I could use to do.

    The finality of death always resets the lens of perspective (for me). Especially when it’s out of nowhere and sudden and gut wrenching, in my opinion of course. I’m really sorry to hear of this.

    November 2, 2014
  4. Ha on the Korean pastors ( probably someone’s masters thesis). So terribly heartbreaking about your husband’s friend. I’m so sorry. I’m always amazed at how, despite having lived through the sudden death of a loved one, I always forget that any moment could be the last. It’s one of those facts that is hard to hold up into the light against the petty grievances and shite behaviour that can cause momentary loathing.

    November 3, 2014
  5. Also, how lovely of you about the hotel

    November 3, 2014
  6. What a gut check, eh? Good for you for not giving in to the negative and figuring how to turn it around. However, quite a shock with Mr. B’s friend.

    November 3, 2014
  7. Ana #

    You are really a great wife with the whole hotel thing. Really great. I haven’t googled it, but I’ve felt that way (spousal loathing). The feeling gratitude thing is fascinating and goes against some of what my therapist has been telling me (its better to express the gratitude or your spouse may still feel unappreciated and the expressing of gratitude will remind you how much you love him)

    November 3, 2014
  8. Andie #

    So very sorry to hear of the sudden loss of Mr Bunny’s friend -thinking of him and the friend’s husband.

    I love how you have researched your way through this particular domestic issue. One can only wonder what Mr Bunny did to make you feel so livid. I hope the hotel break was good for both of you.

    I think it’s extremely important to be grateful for not only the good things in our lives, but also the ordinary things. Like having a job that I enjoy most of the time, or a roof over my head. I know it sounds sappy, but it helps.

    November 4, 2014
  9. What a shocking story about Mr B’s friend. I go between LIFE IS TERRIBLY, TERRIBLY FRAGILE LIKE A TINY LITTLE BABY BIRD and HAH! NOTHING WOULD KILL HIM, HE WILL LIVE FOREVER EXPRESSLY TO ANNOY ME BY NOT PUTTING AWAY HIS COFFEE CUPS. Life is interesting this way.

    [Must admit I read the “Yay he got gas!” confused me for a minute. Why would bunny be pleased about Mr B’s flatulence, I asked myself? Rather the opposite, I would have thought. Oh wait, no. Gas is petrol. Of course!]

    November 7, 2014
  10. I’m pretty sure I have googled almost the exact same thing, just to feel less alone in the midst of loathing. I’m so glad you stopped short of hiring a hitman, Bunny! Props to you 🙂

    Answers from research can be comforting at times, this seems like one of those times for sure. How very kind of you to book him a break. And WHOA, what a fucked up gratitude-reminder. Poor Mr Bunny’s friend 😦 As my Granny would have said, There but for the grace of God go I.

    November 8, 2014
  11. Oh. My. I have been waiting FOREVER to find out about Korean pastors’ wives marital satisfaction. If you could please send the reference my way, that’d be swell.
    That sounds like a very sobering episode in your existence, Bunny: acute spousal loathing – discovering the need to feel gratitude – friend dies – immense gratitude your spouse is not dead. I’m very sorry to hear about Mr. Bunny’s friend. And I’m glad the spousal loathing abated, but sheesh, I think it would have without having to have someone die, universe.

    November 10, 2014

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