The second principle of a healthy marriage according to Saint Paisios the Athonite is Gratitude. Someone once asked the Elder, “What is it that most unites a husband and wife”? His one word answer was “gratitude”. The Elder teaches that gratitude cultivates a positive disposition and fondness towards our spouse, and is the antidote to the grumbling and negative thoughts that can slowly eat away at a couple’s marital bond.
The Elder encourages married couples to have gratitude first to God, then to their spouse, and then towards their extended families. The gratitude that we show towards God is a direct response to His love for us, seen most clearly in His mercy and saving action on our behalf, despite our great sinfulness. When a person clearly sees the greatness of his own sins, then he will appreciate even more the depth of God’s forgiveness. When one has been forgiven such a great debt, gratitude is cultivated in the heart, and he begins to see others as ones who have also “forgiven” him by patiently enduring his sins and weaknesses, and this can be especially true of his spouse.
According to Saint Paisios, this humble-minded remembrance of sins and the understanding that we have much more than we deserve, helps a person approach their spouse with the proper disposition – the disposition of gratitude. When both spouses carry this disposition inside of them, their relationship is filled with love, and this love spills over to the children, parents, grandparents, and friends. In contrast, when a person does not see his or her own weaknesses and sins, but instead is focused on all of the imagined indignities and injustices done to them, then they are lacking in gratitude, and will carry this diseased inner disposition into their marriage. In marriage, this disease manifests itself in complaining, grumbling, nagging, suspicion, and so on. These manifestations of a sick inner disposition divide the spouses, creating emotional distance and making room for other harmful things to enter, such as emotional and physical infidelity.
Saint Paisios emphasizes just how destructive the lack of gratitude is. In fact, he goes as far as to remind us that we should even be grateful for the trials that we face, and for those persons that persecute or harm us. In secular life we are able to recognize that trials can make us stronger and help us build positive personality traits, but we stop short of being “grateful” for trials and persecutions. This is where the Elder helps take us beyond where any secular philosophy or system of counseling can go. If we can learn to not only “accept”, but also be “thankful” for the weaknesses of our spouse, think how little actually discord we would have in our marriages! What turbulence could we possibly feel, if we offered thanks for every unstable pocket of air or gust of wind that our spouse’s actions brought into our relationship? Instead of experiencing these atmospheric changes as turbulence, we would instead experience them as opportunities to become a more whole and stronger person, and the love for our spouse would actually increase, and the emotional bond between us would be further strengthened. A spirit of gratitude for all things is an important characteristic of any healthy marriage.
 Family Life, Pg. 46
 Cf. Family Life. Pg. 145
 Ibid. Pg. 145-146
 Ibid. Pg. 222