One of the loneliest feelings in a marriage is to feel unappreciated by your spouse. Sure, it is perfectly normal as life moves forward to forget about one another in the hustle and bustle of daily activities and mounting responsibilities. And it is even more common for couples to begin expecting certain things from a spouse, without truly seeing them as special.
For instance, if your husband always brings home dinner on Friday nights, starts your morning with a cup of hot coffee, or realizes precisely when it is HIS turn to take the kids for an hour or so, so you can enjoy a manicure or lunch with a friend you may just become accustomed to the nicety. If your wife has dinner made for you every night, and your clothes are always clean chances are you don’t think about the effort that goes into doing so day in and day out. Even more normal is the fact that husband and wife often feel like they shouldn’t have to say thank you to one another, or drop hints of appreciation that at least are recognizing of all the two of you do for one another.
But, would it really hurt to say thank you?
Not because you have to, or because it is Mother’s or Father’s Day, but because you want – for a singular moment to reconnect with your spouse at the level of mutual respect and appreciation. A tiny pat on the back that says, ‘job well done,’ and lets your spouse know that their tiny acts of kindness have not gone without notice.
In nearly every marital advice book ever written, one of the golden rules to a successful marriage is spousal appreciation. This is not to say that it is necessary to do back flips, get on your hands and knees, and make some albeit elaborate boast of thanks for every single thing that your spouse does for you or vice versa. But instead, to drop the occasional, ‘thank you,’ when you notice that they have done something just for you. Something that they didn’t have to do, but did out of the kindness of the heart. Even if it is something that they have done for you since the beginning of your relationship.
The reason why appreciation is so important is extremely simple, but easy to overlook. When a person feels appreciated, in their relationship or otherwise, they are more apt to be willing and happy to continue with the behaviors that they are appreciated for. Opposingly, if your spouse is never given credit or appreciated for all that they do for you, they will eventually become resentful. In human nature, this resentment will turn to a discontinuation of doing the things that show they care. Over time, this pattern repeats and begins to mirror in both spouses. After a while, a complete disconnect emotionally stemming from the lack of appreciation, can destroy the marriage. Sadly, in a marriage spouses so often assume that the other person knows what they think and feel – that the verbal message goes undelivered.
The key in keeping the marriage healthy, is to refrain from being stuck in the habit of only telling one another what you don’t like. it’s easy to complain about a lack of sex, the dirty dishes in the sink and engage in the ‘who does the most’ war of the sexes. it’s easy to act indifferent or angry, resentful or tired. And yet for so many, its difficult to give the quick squeeze, the loving pat on the butt, the elated wink, the kiss on the cheek or the whispered, ‘thank you,’ that could keep the marriage thriving.
Many experts believe that often a marriage becomes wound up in a battle of the egos. Each spouse wants to feel appreciated for every little notion, and wants to feel like they are the one that is putting the most effort into the marriage. The problem with that type of passive aggressive attitude is that the ego only leaves room for one person. If you refrain from saying that you are sorry, that you appreciate something or even, thank you because you don’t want to come across as weak or needy, and because you want to inflict guilt on your partner, you are robbing yourself of a very special relationship.
A recent study showed that when a husband and wife kiss even a couple which has been married for years, blood pressure is reduced and stress-reducing hormones are released into the blood stream. The same affect is felt when a couple simply holds or grabs hands, even if momentarily. Imagine what could be accomplished if these actions where accompanied by words?
Another important thing to remember is that the more you focus on appreciating one another the more your focus will shift from the negative to the positive in your relationship. Just like praising a child for good behavior will only bring more good behavior, the same is true for a marriage.
Bottom line is that the human spirit wants to feel a combination of being needed, loved, and appreciated.
A very interesting program designed to revive marriages is to take the 30-day challenge of being appreciative of your spouse at every moment. Sure, it sounds hard. Essentially, it works by making the commitment that you will not speak anything negative to one another or to others about your spouse for 30 days. And even if you have an issue that needs to be discussed, you are to talk about in positive terms.
For instance, if your husband or wife ALWAYS leaves the car on empty and you are fed up about it, try approaching it like this. ‘honey, I APPRECIATE that you run so many errands for the family. Could you please remember to put gas in the car next time so I won’t be late for work!’ Essentially, by working to recognize something that you appreciate first and foremost about your spouse, and then changing how you discuss challenges, not only do you renew the marriage daily, but you are also more liable to be heard and accepted.
And Look, if trying to be ONLY positive seems like too much work, then try something even simpler. Say THANK YOU! At least once a day for something that your spouse does. You might be surprised how quickly the sparks between the two of you begin to fly again.