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SALT LAKE CITY — A new study says your poor sleep habits can contribute to your spouse's feeling of being taken for granted, but what other personal practices may be harming your marriage?
Not getting adequate sleep
Your spouse's feeling of being taken for granted may stem from your poor sleep.
In a study presented earlier this month, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at how sleep habits impact gratitude. They found that partners who sleep poorly are less likely to be attuned to other people's feelings, and in turn, to express their gratitude. This can often leave their well-rested spouse feeling underappreciated.
They recommend heading to bed earlier to get adequate shut-eye. If poor sleep persists, you may want to talk to your doctor.
When was the last time you said thank you to your spouse?
According to Dr. Amie Gordon, when one spouse expresses gratitude, the other is more likely to reciprocate. In her 2012 study, she found reciprocal appreciation indicated a higher level of commitment, and grateful couples were more likely to stay together longer.
A separate study, out of the University of North Carolina, a spouse's feelings of gratitude toward their spouse could improve marital satisfaction over the course of just a couple weeks.
Gordon said how one communicates their appreciation matters, too. She and her team noted that "highly appreciative" couples used body language to convey they were actively listening. Eye contact, physical touch and proximity mattered, as well as thoughtful responses.
According to a 2007 study, newly married men and women in their late teens and early 20s gain six to nine pounds more than their single peers do during that time. Researchers said when a couple marries, children and responsibilities take time away from the gym.
The extra weight can increase the likelihood of debilitating medical problems, decrease energy and negatively affect a person's sex drive.
People who are uncomfortable with their bodies may also experience emotional stress and poor body image, further reducing the desire for physical intimacy.
Holding back intimacy
Low self esteem, decreased lust, resentment, unrealistic expectations and the busyness of family life can all get in the way of intimacy with your spouse, Life Coach Kim Giles wrote.
"A healthy sex life is a critical part of a good marriage," she wrote. "For the man, sex creates feelings of security, love and validation around who he is. For the woman, sex creates a feeling of connection, fulfillment and security."
She recommends working on self-esteem, reigning in expectations and making sex a priority.
Using negative communication
Happy couples accept their spouse is annoying, they just don't try to change them or criticize them for it, a 2010 Ohio State University study found.
Though the happy couples in their study still argued, the researchers noted they practiced positive communication. Staying attentive, being aware of body language, accepting blame and considering your surroundings (i.e. not making a scene) can keep the disagreement positive, rather than stressful and negative.
Positive communication was also linked to quicker recovery from injury, while couples practicing distressing communication styles experienced the opposite effect.