Yesterday my marvelous husband surprised me with a one-hour massage at a local spa, immediately following a long shift at the creperie. My feet were aching, my eyes were stinging from being wrenched from the REM cycle at 5 a.m., and after clocking out I shuffled over to the spa for what I thought was a tea tree oil foot rub. It turned into a full body massage, complete with soothing, tinkly music and the scent of herbal tinctures.
While I lay there, all warm and snuggly and totally blissed out, and maybe with a little bit of drool dribbling down my cheek — Okay, in my defense, when I was on my stomach with my face in the strange doughnut pillow and my cheeks stretched out, I wasn’t aware of much more than the sweet pressure of knots dissolving from my tired muscles — I thought a bit about gratitude.
Tuesday morning I read Philippians 4: 11-12 in my Living the Sacrificial Life #shereadstruth devotional, in which Paul writes about learning to be content in every circumstance. The author of the devotional wrote that the secret to Paul’s contentment is gratitude, and thankfulness in every situation, good or bad. This cultivates an attitude of thankfulness even when we feel we have little to be thankful for.
Gratitude in marriage seems like such a no-brainer, but this simple addition to a relationship does work wonders. Showing gratitude to one another in the little things and in the big things cultivates a permanent attitude of thankfulness for one another. And so, when I am annoyed at Andrew for not making the bed, I remember to be thankful that he is driven and self-motivated to achieve his goals. When he vacuums and clears the kitchen when I’m at work, I am grateful. And then, when he books a surprise massage for me, I am so super grateful.
Plus, cultivating gratitude sets my spouse up for success — I am learning to jump to the conclusion of gratitude rather than to the conclusion of selfishness or self-pity or entitlement. None of those things are good for my marriage, but thankfulness is. Sometimes the fastest fix for a sour mood is to compile a list of things I’m thankful for: my family, summertime, my job, my healthy body, my working brain, the cool of early mornings, coffee, puppies with red noses, beautiful wedding photographs, good friends, Thai food, sunsets over thunderheads.
Gratitude makes the big things more extraordinary and the little things all the more precious. And massages make me happy.